Friday, August 30, 2019


My "baby" is turning fifteen years old tomorrow!  I can hardly believe it. When the kids were little (2 toddlers and an infant) people used to tell me, "It'll go by so fast, you won't believe it!" Well, those days seemed so long...and here we are, a blink of the eye, with one kiddo 19 and in college, one 17 and a senior, and the baby...turning 15!

Psalm 127:3 New International Version (NIV) 

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.

Thanking the Lord for my blessings :) 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Britfield & The Lost Crown by C. R. Stewart -- my REVIEW

I've mentioned several times before that we are a family of readers, so when books come up for review, I am often glad to check them out. We've found several favorites over the years this way!  This most recent read-to-review book is called Britfield & The Lost Crown  by C. R. Stewart and it is a book that I would imagine is most appealing to middle school readers.

Britfield & The Lost Crown is an adventure-type story, which focuses on two supposed orphans who reside in an absolutely horrid orphanage called Weatherly Orphanage, somewhere in England. They are treated cruelly for reasons they do not understand and seek to escape. Tom (the main male character) finds out some devastatingly important information about himself shortly before he makes his escape attempt. He is accompanied by his friend Sarah (the main female character) and they are assisted by other residents of the orphanage.

Almost immediately upon their escape, they are pursued by law enforcement, and they have to take drastic measures to get away. The rest of the story centers on their attempts to elude their pursuers and another set of people who are also after them (and trying to kill them--they are shot at by one of the pursuers).

I don't want to give away any more of the plot than that, so we'll leave that there. :)

What did I think of the story? Hmmm.  I thought it was somewhat enigmatic -- in one sense it sounded like a scenario out of Oliver Twist (the cruelty and hopelessness of the orphans) but then again at different times things like laptops and cell phones were mentioned. Tom and Sarah lucked into some things that amazingly they could easily use with quite a bit of skill (hot air balloon?!)

Tom and Sarah make a new friend who helps them get away a bit but then he is captured. They continue on their escape route, trying to get away from their pursuers who seem to find them wherever they are. The local police from Weatherly somehow are still following them in London.

I don't know...We personally didn't love the story. I think that it might have made a good read-aloud when my kids were younger (maybe with a little creative editing-while-reading to soften some of the parts about being shot at). It was a lot of chasing, so if you enjoy chase scenes, maybe this is the book for you and your child. Not exactly our favorite. But then again, my kids are high school aged. :)

However, it did not have lots of objectionable material in it either. I would feel fine with having a middle schooler or older elementary student read this book independently, it lacks inappropriate themes which seem to pervade middle schoolers' literature nowadays.

If you choose to use this book as a part of your homeschool, you may be interested to learn that there is a study guide that accompanies it.  This study guide covers vocabulary, comprehension questions, and more.  I really like the way that it covers vocabulary by stating a sentence, asking the student what they think the word means, and then having the student look it up in the dictionary to get the correct meaning. This is a great exercise in using context clues to decipher words.

So...basically it is not one of our favorite books, though it is definitely not objectionable. I think that the value of this book would be as a book for a middle schooler to read for enjoyment or as a part of their reading curriculum.

I readily admit that my take on a book is not the only valid one! There were lots of people who got to review this book -- the softcover book (which I received) as well as some who viewed an e-book, and others who listened to the audio version of the book. Please click on the link below to read more reviews of the book and study guide and maybe you'll want to give it a try!

Britfield & the Lost Crown  {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Poultry 4-H

So exciting each year at the state fair to see the youth showing off their poultry knowledge and judging skills!! 4-H is such a neat program and I'm so glad our children have had opportunities to learn through the projects!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Christ followers

How special to be able to return to our old church in an area where we lived ten years ago. Whenever we move to a new area we are able to find like-minded people who follow Christ. What a blessing!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set by Memoria Press -- my REVIEW

Whenever I see the opportunity come up to review a product by Memoria Press, I jump at the chance! In my experience, all of the products from Memoria Press are high quality, easy to use for both the teacher and the student, and quite academic (not just fluff, if you know what I mean!) Okay, I probably sound like I'm gushing a bit, but truthfully I am not. My kids also perk up when I mention that we will be using a product by Memoria.  This time we were given literature curricula to use and review...the one I received was the Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set. We actually did not receive the novels along with this set, but I would recommend that you purchase the novels with the set (as linked above) -- I'll address this further on in the review :)

The Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set, which we received, contains a Teacher Guide and a Student Book for each of the following novels: Julius Caeser, Romeo and Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Since we are studying primarily American literature this year, we began with To Kill a Mockingbird Literature Guide Set.

Unlike some other Memoria Press resources we have used in the past, the student guide is meant to be used with a notebook, rather than having spaces for the student to write answers in the guide itself. I think this is definitely appropriate, as for the high school level, the questions require more thought and longer answers than one or two words.

The goal of the Memoria Press Literature Guide Sets is to help students understand the great work of literature by helping them to identify and understand the "Central One" idea of the work. The book is viewed not only as its separate parts (as each chapter is dissected/discussed), but also as an entire work. I really like this aspect and it moves the literature study further--from just a study of the parts of the novel to an experience of the whole of the novel. 

One of the components of the literature study is to learn to utilize marking the text. This is what I referred to when I said that I'd recommend you purchase the novels with the study set.  The books in the Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set are definitely available at your local library, but I think that by using a book you cannot mark in (as we did with this set for To Kill a Mockingbird), you are losing out of this focusing tool.  We will definitely purchase books for the other three studies so that my daughter can mark up the books as taught in the course. 

How are the guides used? The student guide walks the student through each chapter, including reading notes (highlighting terms that might not be understood)--including some words which are used in a different sense (for example, chapter 8, one of the reading notes defines touchous (p.73) as a variant of "touchy".  

Words to be defined give less-common words in context and have the student use the sentence for context to figure out which definition from the word bank fits that word.  This is a great vocabulary-builder!  Beyond just building your vocabulary, it also allows students to learn/practice the skill of inferring the definition of a word using context clues.

These reading notes and words to be defined set up the reader for a successful read-through of each chapter. Students are encouraged to mark the text in key places as they read. 

Following the reading, the student will complete the comprehension questions, which, just as it sounds, are questions about the content of the chapter. General and specific questions, some of which the student may have to look back at the text to find, if they did not mark/remember the particular detail.  

The next section is questions under "Socratic Discussion Questions," which, as it sounds, are questions that require more thought than the previous section. Questions are such as, "Do you agree or disagree with Rev. Sykes' direct methods in dealing with the congregation? Why or why not?" Though these questions may be answered in the student's notebook, they are also great points for verbal discussions within your family. :) Sometimes I think it helps the student to explain out loud to a parent or someone what they are thinking and then to write their answer, if  you choose to have them write them in their notebooks.

Memoria Press divides To Kill a Mockingbird up into three sections. At the end of each of these sections is a Rhetorical/Expression segment, in which different essay prompts are given for the student to expand on one or more ideas within that section. Before writing the essay, some questions are asked of the student to kind of help them focus their thoughts and lead them to the Central One idea of each part.

I really like this aspect, as it encourages a thoughtful view of the section and book. It is not just focusing on the "nuts and bolts" of the book, but themes and ideas.  A helpful tool for the student as they write their essays is at the back of the student guide, the Rhetoric Essay Template seen below. (Yes, I know I scribbled over's pretty proprietary, I'd think, and I probably shouldn't share it to the world!)

At this point I've been just telling you about the student book (which the student can go through fairly independently).  There is also a great teacher's guide which accompanies the study--it has great essays on why the course is taught as it is (read them!) and also has the answers (it gives a mirror of the student text with the answers written in the margins) as well as tests and test answers in the back.

The teacher's guide is very easy to follow and it gives the teacher helps for grading and discussing.

At the end of each book, the study guide encourages students to memorize a segment from the book, which helps the student to internalize the book and recall it better at a later date.

Well, I've been just telling you about the one study that we are working through right now, To Kill a Mockingbird.  I did mention at the top that we received the full Tenth Grade Literature Set, which includes studies on three other novels.  The three others are set up very similarly to the one we used. Julius Caesar is split up into acts, and each act includes a preparation section, which is basically a question or point to get the reader thinking along the lines of the Central One idea for the act, where in To Kill a Mockingbird that was found at the beginning to each section, not chapter. All four of these novel literature guide sets are of the same format and same high quality. They will help your student to not just read through and then forget the themes, but to really chew on the ideas and digest the book (figuratively, haha, as opposed to when they were toddlers and literally would chew on and maybe digest books... )  ;)

Once again, Memoria Press did not disappoint!  We will be continuing to use the rest of these literature guide sets throughout the schoolyear!  Memoria Press actually makes a lot of different literature guide sets, and for this review, families were reviewing different grade levels from first grade all the way up through tenth grade!  Please click on the image below to read reviews from each of the levels!

First to Tenth Grade Literature Guides {Memoria Press Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Library and Educational Services LLC -- my REVIEW

Homeschoolers and books...Not to be too stereotypical, but most of the homeschoolers that I know enjoy books to some large degree.  Our family definitely fits into that stereotype, which is why I was so interested to hear about (and to get to review!) Library and Educational Services LLC.   This company (Library and Educational Services LLC) sells books and educational materials to schools, libraries, churches, resellers, and HOMESCHOOLERS!  Looking on their website you will see that they are actually a quite established company, 40 years old. They sell great quality books and they actually review them before selling them to make sure that they are not contrary to Biblical values and standards, which is a pretty neat selling point, especially nowadays.

SO what did we get to review? As reviewers, we were allowed to choose books and series that interested our family or would fit in with our homeschool goals. Our parameters were a selection from the Who Was . . . series, a Lifehouse Theater CD series selection and a selection of books from the Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books category. For a little under $75, check out what we received!

This big set of books is mostly all hardcovered, library bound books (the nice hardcover, with the pictures and etc printed right on the covers, not slipcovered). The softcovered book in the front is one of the "Who was" series, and the CD is The Misadventures of Tom Sawyer, an audio drama by Lifehouse Theater.

The Library and Educational Services LLC website is very easy to navigate and use.   Books are classified in many different ways, from recommended age group to format to topic.  It is also searchable, if you have a particular title, subject, or keyword that you wish to find.
The website is very easy to use!

OH my, I also forgot to tell you one large thing...the books are greatly discounted! The prices are very low and affordable!!  Seriously!  Check out their website for particulars. Basically I received all these books (which I'm about to tell you about!) for just under $75.  That includes 10 high quality hardcover books, one audiobook, and one softcover "Who Was?" book!

When it was time for me to choose some books, I went right to the high school/teen area and looked at books for 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in the category of reinforced hardcover library binding nonfiction books.  We are going to focus on American Literature this year, so the first thing I chose was a set of biographies about 5 authors from the "Writers and Their Times" series.

This series of books, each featuring a famous author, is not just a set of biographies. Each of the books explores the historical era in which each one lived and wrote and introduces the reader to historical context, besides giving a biographical picture of each one. The books are hardcover and contain illustrations, timelines, and really, just interesting writing to allow the reader to learn a lot while not feeling like they are dragging through the book :) 

The book we chose from the "Who Was" series was actually a "Who Is" book...Who is Aretha Franklin?  These books are written for a younger audience than my children, but honestly, my 14-year old daughter enjoyed reading this book about the famous singer and learning some interesting facts about her (she had two children by the time she was 14 years old! Yikes...) She had heard about Aretha Franklin's death on the radio a year ago and wanted to know more about her, so this little book was good for that. This series has biographies about a huge range of famous people in history and today.  

  The audio drama that we chose, "The Misadventures of Tom Sawyer", was also a bit below the age level of my high schoolers, but it gave us 70 minutes of interesting listening on a long car ride :) The stories are familiar selections from Tom Sawyer,  and are dramatized for the listeners' entertainment.

Another hardcover series which we received is a set of biographies about Tolkien and also two female scientists-- Clara Barton,Founder of the American Red CrossMarie Curie, A Scientific Pioneer, and J.R.R. Tolkien, Creator of Languages and Legends.  Once again, these are very high quality hardcover books, filled with nice illustrations, a timeline, and the stories of each of their lives. 
The last two books we chose purely for interest/fun.  These books are World's Worst Cars  and World's Worst Historical Disasters. These lovely hardback books are easy to read, short little vignettes or descriptions. The car one was hilarious to husband found several cars in there that his aunt or friend had in the '70's and '80's which he agreed they were pretty sketchy cars! :) These were fun books, almost like coffee-table type reading--pick it up, read a little, pick it up when you have a little time again, etc.

It would be worth your time to browse the website and see what kinds of resources they have available. There is a large section of homeschool resources, as well as all kinds of other things...Bibles (a great selection at a really nice price!), CD's, DVD's, and so much more.  Check them out!

If you'd like to hear what other reviewers thought of this great site, Library and Educational Services LLC, please click on the link below!

Wholesale Books for Your Homeschool {Library and Educational Services LLC Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Country mouse City mouse

We recently moved from our island living home to a suburban/urban area. My family is definitely the country miuse in the city. Today's case in point...the kids grew up swimming/playing in the lake...crazy fun times. Here in our new area there is a town pool...complete with lots of people, lifeguards, and chlorine. We hardly know what to do ... so stringent... what do people actually do in a pool full of people and rules? I'm not being facetious...seriously, either than purely dipping g in to cool off, what do you do? I'm sure we'll get used to it :)