Sunday, December 31, 2017

Playing Curious George

You know that Curious George book where he puts dish soap into the dishwasher and suds fill up the house???


but there was no-one to blame except myself...

It started out honestly (seriously, I've known since I was a tiny child to not put regular dish soap into a dishwasher!!) -- cleaning out the dishwasher--there are a few spots where  gunky soap scummy greasy stuff collects, and if I don't clean it out periodically it is disgusting.  SO -- I took the relevant parts out yesterday and because some of the stuff was quite greasy, I reached for what I use to clean any grease with -- dish soap.  Cleaned it all up nicely, looked and smelled good...then turned on the (empty) dishwasher to rinse everything out...

And you know what comes next!

I looked over and there were huge clouds of soap bubbles billowing out of the dishwasher and onto the floor :)  One look and I knew what had happened...and boy was I glad my husband was at work hahahaha!! :)  So basically I scooped out as much as I could (filled both sinks with bubbles) and then just let the rest of it work its way out!  What a mess, but so funny!!!!!

I didn't think to take pictures till we were through the worst of it, so you'll have to use your imagination on that part, but our dishwasher (and the floor in front of it!) looks and smells beautiful now!

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker -- my REVIEW

Have you ever read a book and wanted to be best friends with the author?  After reading this book I would love to have Jen Hatmaker in my life. I have SO enjoyed this book that I didn't want it to come to an end! :)

This book, Of Mess and Moxie, is a wonderful book for women to read :)  I am 47 and have 3 kids--I felt like this book reflected or maybe even validated parts of my life. It is a hilarious read, a touching read, a thought-provoking read.  From when I started it and read the introduction (in my car in a parking lot, waiting for a child) -- which made me tear up at points-- to parts that I read on an airplane and couldn't keep from laughing out loud!

The book's chapter titles give you an idea of the contents...from "Beauty, Food, Fun, and Naps," to "Sanctuary" to "Doldrums" to "My Soul Mate Netflix"-- it is entertaining, thoughtful, and just plain fun to read!

Oohh, "forgiveness school" -- who doesn't need those good reminders? And oh so much more.  The book is sprinkled with hilarious lists, such as "How to find a missing child: 1)Prepare to take a shower or go to the bathroom 2)Shut door"  or "How to make your house look clean while you have been watching netflix all day, because you really, really neded to finish the series you're locked into" or "How to survive a public restroom with your preschooler" and more and more and more!  So many times while reading this book I was laughing out loud and reading these lists to anyone around me!  Several times, also, my eyes inadvertently were cloudy with tears (and I'm not a crying-type person!)

I really recommend this book.  Buy it for moms you know!  I have bought it for both of my sisters.  I will share my book with friends.  I will read it again (and I'm not a re-reader!)  Read it!!!  Buy it!!!  Enjoy it!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Oh how I love to barter!! :)  For me, this is a great time of  year to barter, as one of my specialties is mittens (see this post!) and in this cold time of the year, there are lots of people looking for warm hands! :)  Check out these delicious home-made chocolates and candies that I got through bartering! We're saving those to eat on Christmas day.  Oh, and the box-of-beef? Yes!  Another trade--working/helping/occasional chores for a farmer friend.  Yes, I do understand the value and importance of money (the orthodontist won't take mittens as payment!), but when given the chance, I love to offer to barter, and to take others up on their offers!!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Fudge :)

I'm not much of a candy maker, but the Christmas season is the time for making fudge around here :) Over the years we've tried many different recipes, but always come back to the one on the back of the Fluff container! Nothing is quite as good, quite as consistent, or quite as easy! Yummmm!!

How about you? Any favorite fudge recipes? Or do you use the Fluff recipe too?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Frustration and flexibility

 Frustration and flexibility.  Quite opposites!  I have been trying to teach my children to look for opportunities to be flexible when they encounter frustration. . .it's difficult, isn't it?  However, a planned approach might help, or at least a mindfulness.

This is something that not only my kids need to work on. I am also working on this :) The way my brain works, I can usually recognize that I am getting frustrated and stop for a moment to make a conscious decision of how I'll proceed (yes, I know that I'm weird that way.  I'm not really a person driven by emotions).  This verse is a good one for me to remember in my quest for flexibility rather than frustration:

Deuteronomy 31:8

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

A lot of frustration is rooted in fear or anxiety, this verse reminds us that when we have the Lord with and for us, we do not need these responses.  It's by HIS help, not my own doing. 

To see more blogs by homeschool families, please check them out here!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmastime -- focus

I know I posted this before, but I am really struck by the song "Would I Miss the Miracle".  This December, with one child at community college, two being homeschooled, braces for me on the horizon, and other medical things going on in our family . . . we need to try hard to really focus on the reason for Christmas and be thankful for what God has done for us.  Here's a link to listen to it :)
Enjoy and remember why we are so thankful for Christ's coming to earth as a baby, to die on the cross to pay for our sins to redeem us and take us to heaven when we die!

Monday, November 20, 2017

What We See in the Stars by Kelsey Oseid -- my REVIEW

Are you looking for a gift for someone who is interested in the nght sky?  You might want to pick up a copy of this book, What We See in the Stars by Kelsey Oseid.  This book is a pretty hardcovered book, full of illustrations which will walk the reader through the different entities in the night sky.  

You will be introduced to constellations (thank you Ptolemy!) and the nice illustrations will help you to visualize what the ancient namers were thinking when they gave certain clusters of stars the names that they did (for instance, did you ever wonder why that "M" or "W" shape is given the name Cassiopeia?  Check out page 36 and you'll be able to read the information about the name (and the associated Greek myth), as well as learning information about some of the elements of the constellation.

There is a whole section about "modern" constellations -- which are still in use in the modern constellation naming system.  I got a kick out of some of these... Antilla--the air pump (a pneumatic pump or bellows), Microscopium--the microscope, and more.  Did you ever hear of the constellation Chamaeleon? (sticking its tongue out to catch its neighboring constelation Musca, the fly!)  Very interesting!

After reading about the constellations, you may then read the sections about the galaxy, the moon, the sun, the planets, and deep space.  There are lots of topics covered in a very visually attractive way--the illustrator did a great job to keep the reader engaged.

I love seeing shooting stars, so I enjoyed the section on meteor showers, including a listing of when the most notable meteor showers annually occur.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think it would go nicely with a homeschooling family who is studying astronomy. . .and I think it would make a nice gift for a child or an adult who is interested in learning more about what is in the sky above us.  I will say that this is not written from a religious or creationist viewpoint, just saying. This would not stop me from recommending it, though.

You may view an exerpt from the book here on their website.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Mitten craziness...again

It's mitten-making season! It's funny, I can look back through the blog and find mitten-making posts from past years ( here from 2012!) (Here from last year)

Each year I do one craft sale--making mittens out of felted wool sweaters that I purchase all year long at rummage sales and such. It's a lot of work, but kind of my one big way to earn money -- usually our Christmas $$ for the year :) This year, however, it will be going toward a downpayment for braces... :/ can you see my frowny-face from here?? Ah well, it's a great way that God provides for us and I am thankful!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis -- my REVIEW

We are a family of readers. . .but formal learning in literature is not my forte. Some appreciation of classics (for things like societal references and etc) have been discussed, but I am always kind of torn as to how much time and effort we should put on literature, "great authors," classics, and historic writing. We have tried a few different literature curricula, with differing degrees of learning and enjoyment. My attitude toward literature may be a bit lax, but I do realize that for several purposes (college prep, social understanding, appreciation of great art/writing) we ought to study literature and authors.

My son had begun a literature course this schoolyear, the type of course that is a textbook with samples of many, many authors--and then quizzes/tests. This didn't seem to be a thing that stuck in his mind, doing it independently. Maybe with a teacher teaching, it would have been more learn-able, but as an independent learning thing, it wasn't great. ENTER Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis which is produced by Writing With Sharon Watson.   When the opportunity to review this literature course came up, I thought that it would be a good chance to check out another curriculum--and boy am I glad we got to use this!!!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

My 10th grade (15 year old) son is the student that is using this course, and from the very first day that he flipped through the course he was excited to switch to this one away from his other literature (okay, seeing that one of his favorite books, The Hobbit,  was "required reading" may have played a part in that happiness as well:) ) but he jumped right in. 

The book begins with chapter zero (haha!!) and the lessons focus on an introduction to "literature" and why you should read it/study it, different important terminologies, descriptions of antagonists/protagonists, etc. along with a concrete exercise to reference these in one of their favorite
books or movies. 

from the student text

Once the student has begun with relating these to something they chose, they move on to chapter 1, which begins with a short story ("A Jury of Her Peers").  Different literary terms and concepts are taught, as well as historical context, followed by the reading of the story and then questions to answer and discuss.  There is also a Novel Notebook (a pdf download) which the student can utilize to answer more questions/thinking exercises. 
from the novel notebook

Between the textbook and the novel notebook, there is an abundance (overabundance?) of questions for the student, to provoke thought and for them to write in answers for.  There is also a large list of activities ("Your choice of activities") which relate to the topic/study...for instance, for the "A Jury of Her Peers" short story, some of the options are: research (research the history of women on juries), create (draw, paint, or sculpt an event or character from the story), can (learn how to can fruit), write a procedure (write the procedure for police coming to the scene of this story), conduct a trial (Conduct Minnie's trial), and more.  These activities will cement this story into the minds of the learner.

There are also quizzes.  There is a quiz book, the quizzes are also available online.  There is a "Yes I read it" quiz (covering the story itself) as well as a "Literary Terms Quiz".  My son enjoyed doing the quizzes online, though they could be done on paper as well.  (the online ones are self-scored, if you utilize a paper quiz, the answers are provided in the Quiz and Answer Manual.  

Once the book-reading begins, specific publications are recommended (the ISBN's are in the book, so you can purchase the corresponding one) so that the student can follow line references referred to in the textbook.  Thankfully these are not really super-pricey versions ;) We haven't tried using a non-recommended version, so I don't know if that makes it more difficult.  

As of right now, my son is working on Frankenstein.  The other books that will be addressed in this program are Silas Marner, Much Ado About Nothing, "A White Heron", "The Garden of Forking Paths," "Haircut," "The Lady or the Tiger," "Of the Passing of the First-Born," "A Child's Christmas in Wales," Sense and Sensibility, Biography (of the student's choice), and (my son's favorite!!!) The Hobbit.  Short stories are either printed in the text or linked to online.  

from the novel notebook download

Okay, so ... I really like this literature curriculum.  I love all the literary terms that are introduced, in a concrete, applied fashion, not just as abstract terms.  My son learns things much more thoroughly when they are applied right away (as do I!)  The website on which  you can find this curriculum mentions that "by the end of this course, your teen will have learned almost 100 literary terms and devices as they occur naturally in the selections. "  This is very valuable.  There are a wide range of pieces that are covered and discussed (and learned about!)  It is also written in a very learner-friendly way.  My kids do much of their high-school work independently, and this book is written in a way that is easily-independently-used.  My son actually has said that he would like to use another book by this author next year, if it's available!  So there, high praise from a 15 year old boy! :) 

The set of books that is included is a Student text, a quiz and answer manual, and a teacher's guide. As a reminder, there are also quizzes available online, as well as a "novel notebook" .pdf to download if you wish.  It's a great value, with all of these together.  Check out this Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis and you'll see what I mean!  

To hear what other reviewers thought of this curriculum, you can click the link below!  

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Braces? :/

Well, my next adventure will be braces on my teeth.  Hmmm.  Not sure how this will be, I'm thinking the worst part will be the cost.  I am waiting to see how the Lord will provide :) 

Thankful for the reminders in the song "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thinking Like an Engineer -- my REVIEW

All of my children have an interest in engineering-type projects, activities, and topics.  Since they are homeschooled, when I see an opportunity that fits within this framework, I like to check it out and get them involved.  They are all on a robotics team, and two of them on a Cyberpatriot (cybersecurity) team, as well as doing other robotic work through 4-H, but they haven't really had any education aimed purely at engineering.  I was very pleased to get to review this enginering program from Innovators Tribe.  It's an online class called Thinking Like an Engineer and my 15-year old son has added this into his curriculum for this year.

Thinking Like an Engineer

This course, Thinking Like an Engineer, is a go-at-your-own-pace class, made up of learning videos as well as hands-on projects. The materials for the class are pretty much items you have around your home alread, so there was no need for expensive equipment.  

I want to copy/paste the "Learning Targets" for this course, because for me, just reading these would emphasize why I want my children to take this course:

·         I can explain and apply the 6 steps of problem-solving.
·         I know how to use techniques like the 5 Why’s problem identity technique and the “What if” technique.
·         I can explain what an idea is and how to have more of them.
·         I can explain the real definition of the word “solution.”
·         I can demonstrate the use of different brain-games to help build my innovative muscle.
·         I can identify the 4 poisons to innovation and their cure.
·         I can explain the importance of engineering and problem-solving using real-world examples.
·         I can explain that there are 14 grand problem-solving challenges that need solutions.
·         I can define the following terms: tension, compression, twisting, bending, shearing, torsion, vortices, vortex shedding, aerodynamics, dead load, live load, structural-engineering, girder, truss, friction, potential and kinetic energies, g-force.
·         I can give an example of how each of these math subjects is used in engineering: Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Advanced Calculus, Trigonometry, Probability & Statistics, Physics.
·         I can demonstrate the correct use of the following tools: ruler, construction level, 3D design software

The goal being, to help students learn to think like an engineer, yes, but to think like an INNOVATOR!  Aha!  We need this type of thinking in every aspect of our lives, right?

The chapters of the course are broken down into lessons, and each lesson has an estimated time beside it to give the student an idea of the length of time they can expect to need for each lesson.  Many (the videos) are quite short, while the challenges can take much more time.  

What are the challenges like?  Well, the first two are to use very limited resources (as listed in each one) and 1) build a tall self-standing tower, and 2) hold up a stack of books 1" above a surface.  Here are my son's outcomes for these first two:


He was a little unenthused about the course throughout the first chapter, because he felt like he hadn't actually been taught anything.  And then, the next chapter was about 3D modeling, and he's not a big computer guy, so he was kind of dreading that too. . .BUT as he began that chapter, he found that, "Hey!  It's kind of interesting!" :)

So yes, there is a 3D modeling segment of the course, and it's a free download of a CAD Autodesk product.  Awesome, right?  :)  This is something that I believe all children of this generation will need to have at least some exposure and experience with, so I'm happy that it is a part of this course as well.  The explanations are very clear, even as to how to download the product and install it (which was nice, because he could do it himself.)  He has been enjoying these lessons, and has been doing a lot of playing around with this software.

And, yes, I used the term "playing around," because that's how I term it with him. . .but truthfully he's familiarizing himself with the tool and gaining confidence in this computer modeling.  I think this is very valuable, so I've been encouraging him to do more and more of that "playing around" before he proceeds much further.  

SO, I've told you about the intro and the 3D modeling, but you'd probably like to know the other topics, right?  The other chapter titles are Engineering Rollercoasters, Engineering Bridges, Nano Engineering, and Thinking Like an Engineer (course conclusion).  

He's enjoying it, and I think I'll have my 13 year old daughter take the course after him. Of course she'll have seen his solutions to the challenges, and I'd bet she'll probably try to come up with her own unique solutions.  It's not a course just geared toward high schoolers, it's actually listed for grades 6-12.  

This screenshot shows the video lecture, the chapater/progress section (on the left) and the 3D program behind
To accompany the lessons, there are worksheets/guided notes such as pictured below:

I do like this course.  I think it is very valuable to most students, not just those interested in a engineering career, remember it is learning to think like an INNOVATOR, and that is definitely something we should want all the members of the next generation to be proficient in.  I would suggest this course as an addition to your homeschool curriculum.

Innovators Tribe What You Get

If you have a high schooler, or if you are in transcript-credit mode, you'll be interested in the estimate that this is around 30 hours of work, and will work out to about 1/4 of a credit.

So, to sum up, this is a great hands-on, online learning tool to help your student develop his or her innovative thinking skills (as well as 3D modeling!).  Go check out their site (Thinking Like an Engineer) .  While you are there, you might see that there is another course which I have not viewed yet, called Thinking Like an Architect, which looks really neat too!  To read reviews by other folks of this engineering course as well as of the architect course, please click on the link below.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, November 6, 2017

Thin Stix Creativity Pack -- my REVIEW

These days, it seems our busy schedules don't allow for much art or craft work.  When we have projects, the quicker the better it seems!  My girls were thrilled when we received our next product for review, the Thin Stix Creativity Pack by The Pencil Grip, Inc.  The big pack of colorful marker-looking things attracted the instant attention of my two girls, who are 13 and 17 years old :) 

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

Doesn't that just make you want to design something beautiful? 

They jumped right in, trying out the paint sticks.  Oh, did you catch that? PAINT STICKS, not markers!  They have a really smooth feel going on, and dry very quickly (90 seconds, according to the box!)  They are not a water-based marker, not even a marker, just solid tempera paint!  

The colors are great, this box contains 24 colors, twelve classic, six neon, and six "metalix"!  My girls set out right away, grabbing paper and doing some coloring and talking about what they like about these.  Statements such as this:

"The colors are nice, but some of them are a lot lighter than I'd think they would be."
"It feels so nice going onto the paper!"
"Oohhh my arm got smeared in it!"
"I forgot these are paint!"
"Oh, they dry so fast!"
"Look at this gold one!!"
"Oh hey, try this!"

Even my husband was intrigued, he looked them over and thought it was great that there is a white paint stick too! 

Ummmm, did you get the idea that these were a lot of fun for us?  :)  Okay, my 15-year old son wasn't too excited, but he's not really into craftish stuff :) 

Here are some of their favorites . . .


The box that the Thin Stix Creativity Pack comes in looks pretty childish, it's obvious that they're meant for younger kids (I think!).  The more the girls worked with them, they DID say that they thought they are meant for kids younger than themselves (they were coming up with lots of ideas of children we know who would love them!)  They found it difficult to do distinct edges, it was much easier to do broad filling strokes, perhaps that is a function of them being paint sticks -- it kind of wears down like lipstick does, if that makes sense.

I think that this product would be a great fun product for children of many different ages.  Just beware!  It DOES rub off on you if you accidentally drag your arm or hand through it before it has dried.  

My kids, who are in an older range, thought that these would be great for making things like posters or tabletops, like they do for some 4-H presentations.  The colors were a little light, but if you layer them, they darken up more.  They give a great quick end result.  (My youngest decided that if she were running for class president, she'd make a sign like this:
ummm, as a homeschooler, and therefore the only one in her
class, I'd hope she would win! :) :)

So--they're pretty cool, we liked them, not really a serious art product for my age of kids, but great fun for younger ones!  If you'd like to hear what other people thought about this Thin Stix Creativity Pack, please click on the link below!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, November 4, 2017

When Did Everyboy Else Get So Old? by Jennifer Grant -- my REVIEW

I seem to be reading a lot of  books lately, which is good!  This book, by Jennifer Grant, is DEFINITELY one of those that grab the reader's attention!  Oh my goodness, from the title When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? (which is something I've said before!!) to the subtitle, "Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife" -- this book sounded too good to be true!!  Even the cover--HILARIOUS!!! It's hard to tell in this picture below, but the text on the front of the cover is slightly fuzzed/blurred, but just so slightly that you think it's your eyes, until you read the author name (shown inside a pair of glasses), which is completely clear.  SO so funny!!!

And oh boy, throughout the reading of is so reflective of many of my thoughts and experiences!  Okay, so to be clear, I'm 46 years old, so I think I am probably the demographic this book was written for, and she hit it dead center.  There are topics on body things, kid things, mind things, spiritual things, and more.  It's kind of like a collection of essays all related to our lives at this stage, but don't get me wrong, it's not choppy -- it just flows from topic to topic.  

This book made me feel good to read.  I understood and empathized and heard advice. 

Until the second to last chapter.  Sadly the author holds a completely different view of God and the Bible than I do, and this really makes it a book that I would hesitate to recommend ... unless I could recommend it without that chapter.  Seriously, I really like this book...but seriously, that one part, not in my belief system.  I believe in the Biblical account of God and Jesus and the way to salvation through Christ alone.  This is not the view put forth by this author.  SO. . .I guess I won't be buying this book for a bunch of gifts.  I kind of wished that the author hadn't put this part in there, but it's her story.  

I'm still glad I read it.  It still made me laugh and reminisce and feel kind of normal-ish :) I just can't give a blanket recommendation on it.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Too Far Down by Mary Connealy -- my REVIEW

Too Far Down by Mary Connealy is a third book in The Cimarron Legacy series, a book about a western family in the 1880's.  I have read the first two books in the series, so I wanted to read this one as well to kind of wrap up the series.  

The Boden family is still being plagued by some unknown enemy (the same that has been after them before?  They don't know.)  This time it is the mining operations owned by the family.  The parents are far far away, waiting for the father's leg to heal, and the (grown) children are living at the ranch in response to a requirement by their father.  

The book begins with a series of explosions at the mine, which is a part of the family properties, and is managed by the oldest son, Cole. Several men are injured, and some killed.  Cole and his brother, sister, and other family connections begin trying to figure out who/what/why of this tragedy--while trying to keep safe and alive. 

Mel, the daughter of the nearby rancher (who essentially grew up with the Boden family) takes an active role in the investigation.  

Basically it's a story of their trying to find out who/what is the threat . . .and meanwhile a love story comes about as well.  

I had read the previous two books, and that made it easier to follow the story.  For whatever reason, however, I kind of felt like, alright all ready--- enough.  I can't quite put my finger on it, I usually really love series, but this one just. . .not.  

It IS a clean book, a bit of romance and a bit of battle, so there's that going for it.  It's just not a favorite of mine.  Funny, I went back and read my review of book two (here) and I guess I didn't love that one either :)  Well, that should teach me...if I don't like book #2, I might not like #3!  Who knows, though, maybe you'll love it!  It has a lot of great reviews from others!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall -- my REVIEW

 There are times in my busy life when I carry a book around with me for those chance "down times" that I might encounter.  Alternatively, there are those books which demand to be read, whether I be busy or not!  This book, The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall (her daughter-in-law) is one of the latter!  It's a "stay up late to read and regret the lack of sleep tomorrow" type of book, if you know what I mean!

The main character, Hadley, grew up in foster care, and in high school, just when things appeared to be going well--good prospects for the future, boyfriend with similar interests, looking forward to a future in speech therapy--there is a huge kink in her life and everything is thrown all out the window. 

Monroe, Hadley's high school boyfriend, is faced with a decision, one that will affect his life as well as Hadley's (and their future lives)--and he chooses what he thinks will be ultimately the best for Hadley (on the advice of his parents). 

Hadley disappears from his life and their paths diverge, leaving a sadness, despair, and more abandonment behind.

Fast forward to the future, when they are adults.  Hadley is working in speech therapy (as she had hoped) and is working on a higher academic degree.  She lives with a former foster child friend and their lives seem to be heading in a positive direction.  She works with a child who lives near them and has speech issues, but when an emergency occurs, that work goes backward mysteriously, and Hadley works to help her further.

Enter Monroe, who hasn't seen or heard of/from Hadley for years.  I really don't think I ought to tell you more of the plot, because it's definitely a story you will enjoy reading!  (Haha!  Is that frustrating, leaving you there?  Read it!)  It's an engaging story about persistence, abandonment, emotional rawness (not just theirs), fear, success, and more.  There are peripheral characters who are great additions to the story as well (as well as their own storylines--hmmmm--might they be developed further in future books?  Just wondering. . .)

I enjoyed the characters, the ending was satisfying, and the writing was very interesting.  I really enjoyed this story and would highly recommend it to others!  And guess what???? It's not a Christmas story!  (weird title, though-- "The Gift of Christmas Past" ??  I really didn't see the Christmas connection -- but don't let that stop you from reading it!  It's definitely NOT a seasonal read.)  Despite my thoughts about the title, I would highly recommend this book!  I hope to see more books written by Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin!

I received a copy of this book from the authors and was happy to read and review it.  I was not required to write a positive review, I just loved it and wanted to share!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Proud momma :)

This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a wonderfully fun and memorable trip with my daughter -- flying to Austin, TX for her to receive an award by the Society of Women Engineers at their annual conference (WE17).  It was a great time, a huge blessing, she met some girls who are just like her :), and learned more about engineering and the career field.

She and 6 other girls were awarded global innovator awards for high school girls, my daughter's award particularly was for work done in rural areas (yes, we are certainly rural!).  Especially sweet to me, due to the fact that she's homeschooled!  No slacker here!  :)

The girls got to attend a high school leadership academy, the WE17 Career Fair, meet many mentors, a great awards dinner, and so much more!  (We parents basically just partied [haha] -- actually just hung out together, got to know one another, toured Austin, and had a great time with our girls and the female engineering community).

What a blessing!  Looking forward to what the future will bring!

Cyberpatriot -- year 2!

This is my kids' second year of doing the Cyberpatriot competition.
  Today was the first competition and the team this year is just my two daughters.  They did great, got 159 points out of 200. 

It's a great opportunity for kids to learn and try securing computer systems!   If you're interested in learning more about it, check it out here:  Cybersecurity is an up and coming career -- how about letting your kids give it a try?!