Summer Stories for Mom

Um (insert sheepish grin here) . . .

I just realized this never went live. I don’t even know if I scheduled it and it didn’t work or if I just totally forgot to schedule it. So, here it is. Enjoy the list. There are some fascinating books in this list!

Summer Stories for Mom

July has flown by! I didn’t realize I had not yet shared my June reading list with you. So here goes:

Give Your Child The WorldGive Your Child The World by Jamie C. Martin

This was a fast read and I was somewhat disappointed in it. I was hoping for something that brought more themes and titles to the table, especially for older students. I was able to read through the introductory materials in about 30 minutes and spent another 30 perusing the titles and summaries. It is directed at families with pretty young children. There are a decent number of titles and the summaries are pretty helpful. It has plenty of interesting books, just not for the age level I needed.

Eighty DaysEighty Days by Matthew Goodman

This is the story of two young women who traveled around the world, striving to complete the journey in under 80 days, as the fictional traveler did the famous book “Around the World in 80 Days.” This, however, is a true story. The full title is Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World. Nellie Bly, supported by one newspaper, headed east. Elizabeth Bisland, supported by a different paper, headed west. This books covers their travels, their stops, and the variety of things they encountered on the way.

This was a fascinating book, full of history from the many places the women visited on their journeys. It was not a fast read, but it wasn’t hard. There was so much to read about, to learn, to understand. Quite a fascinating book. It would be quite the feat to travel as they did, especially when you consider that it was 1890. A definite recommend.

Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise by Lucinda HawksleyQueen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter

This was one that I really enjoyed in the beginning. Before too long, though, it seemed to have an agenda within it and I quit enjoying it. I did browse all the way through, reading bits and pieces here and there to learn more about what all Princess Louise did in her life. She had a fascinating life, and not just because she was Queen Victoria’s daughter. She seems to have had a bright mind, a curiosity that was insatiable, and plenty of empathy to see those around her and their needs.

I wish the book had been written differently because I find this young lady pretty fascinating. I will be looking for other books about her.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie FlaggA Redbird Christmas

This was different from much of Fannie Flagg’s writings and I just loved it. I love redbirds and cardinals so this title caught my attention (as well as the 25 cent price tag for the hardback, like-new book at a garage sale). A community pulls in those who need comfort and health and love. We see this come to fruition more than once in this book about a small country town that is full of life. When a young one from the area needs their help, they all pull together and help her through the difficulty. This is a fantastic read and not very long.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggFried Green Tomatoes

I figured since I was reading so much of her other works, I needed to read the one most people are at least familiar with the title of. Well, I was disappointed. (To tell the truth, I didn’t like the movie either.) The story was not too bad but it wasn’t one that just pulled me along, tempting me to keep reading. Since I had seen the movie quite a while ago, I could remember just enough to tell that the book and the movie were different. That made the book even harder to read – I kept waiting for this thing or that little scene that I could remember to happen. It isn’t a bad read, just not one I really, really enjoyed. Glad I read it but -meh- not really worth the time.

Oh, the story line – It takes place in the memory of Mrs. Threadegoode, who lives at a retirement home. Evelyn, a middle-aged housewife, stumbles into friendship with her while visiting a relative there. Mrs. Threadegoode often just takes off on her tale, remembering life in Whistle Stop, Alabama. The tale focuses on the people of that small town, their interactions, and their securities/insecurities. All of the incidents that occur in the past help Evelyn become who she desires in the present. The tale changes everything.

So, I think that is it for the month. July’s reading will be up before too much longer, won’t it? Wow, this summer has flown. What have you read? Anything I should put on my book list?

At Home.


String Art – Initials

String Art Project

To kick off our school year, our church group got together for lunch and an activity. One of the ladies suggested doing some string wrapping. We had some string at the church building that was part of a stash of yarn and string belonging to a sweet, kind lady that is affectionately referred to as Mama D. Mama D has gone to her heavenly reward and is much missed here but has left behind an amazing legacy of love and gifts. We used some of her string for the students to create an initial of their own, giving each of them yet another special something from Mama D.

nail examples

We used leftover plywood that we spray painted and cut a piece of paper the size of the wood block. Then we used a pencil to draw a block letter that would fit the wood. The students had the choice of a simple outline or a crossing pattern. For the simple outline, we just put nails in at each place where the string needed held in a particular shape. If they chose the crossing pattern we put nails every inch or so. We were not really particular and let most of the students pound their own nails in.

string art images

After the nails were in, we tied the string to a nail and let them go at it. The outlines were good for the younger group and the older group really enjoyed doing the crisscrossing. They all came out lovely and they were really quite simple to do. Such a fun project to start our homeschooling year off.

At Home.

The Road to Paradise – Blogging for Books review

The Road To Paradise

Mount Rainier has fascinated me since my dad hiked the Wonderland Trail a few years ago. I had no idea how beautiful it was until those pictures were brought back. And then, it became a place I would love to visit. Which is why The Road to Paradise by  Karen Barnett appealed to me so much.

This is a vintage national parks novel, meaning the setting is back at the beginning of the national park. This particular novel takes place at Mount Rainier National Park in 1927.

Road To Paradise


Margie Lane, an excited and knowledgeable naturalist, is joining the staff at Mount Rainier. She is going to work alongside the staff, particularly the rangers, at the park but not everyone is excited about her being there. Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is less than enthusiastic about a lady on staff, feeling like he will have to watch over her and protect her. And while that may just end up being true, it isn’t due to her ineptitude or lack of knowledge but rather due to a former fiance who feels it is his right to order people (in this case Margie and anyone around her) to do what he says.

Margie had hoped to escape from his sight by going to Mount Rainier but he was able to follow her path and now, even the park may be in danger of this man who plows over and through anything in his way. Can Margie stand up to him and come out safely on the other side?

About the Author:

Karen Barnett is definitely the right person for the job of writing about the national parks. As a former ranger naturalist and outdoor educator , she worked at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Silver Falls State Park, and Mount Rainier National Park. She enjoys hiking, photography, and public speaking when she is not writing. She lives in Oregon.


This was a fun book to read, to get an idea of what the park might have been like in its infancy, before it was so swamped with people that you have to stand in line to get to walk on its trails. Mount Rainier provided a perfect backdrop of beauty and mystery. The treachery of the people is so perfectly mirrored in the treachery of the mountain and it all pulls together well in the story line of The Road To Paradise by Karen Barnett.

At Home.

FTC Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Let’s Go Geography ~ a Crew review

Let's Go Geography

Geography is a subject that is always fascinating because there are so many facets to it. Whether you are looking for the language, culture, geographical features, landmarks, or other information on a country, Let’s Go Geography has a fantastic program. This has been a fun review that we are planning on continuing long past the end of the review period.

coloring a pageDesigned for K-4th grade, this is an online homeschool geography curriculum. Because it is online, you will need access to a computer, the internet, and a printer. From home, you will probably want a binder to keep the travel journal in and you will need basic school supplies for the activities. This would include crayons, pencils, map colors, scissors, glue, and few other supplies for specific crafts activities.

Let’s Go Geography was created by Carol Henderson. Mrs. Henderson has taught geography in a co-op setting for a while but decided to adapt her lessons to an online format for more homeschoolers to access. (I am so glad she did!!!) The program is a planned 3-year cycle taking the students from continent to continent and country to country. Each year of the cycle takes the students through at least one country per continent (well, Antarctica, Australia, and New Zealand are the anomalies for this).Let's Go Geography

The lessons follow a similar pattern for each country studied in the program:

  • map work, marking the country on both the continent map and a closer-up map when appropriate, which also includes answering some questions related to the maps and the country (mountains, lakes, borders, etc.)
  • a statistics page for the country
  • coloring the country’s flag and adding it to a map and/or passport
  • listening to the national anthem
  • videos that are related to important information about the country – the people, the geographical landmarks, the food, the exports, and more
  • a link for reading more online at a kid-friendly site and information on where to look in the library for printed materials on the country
  • a photo album with pictures from the country
  • a craft or coloring page related to the country

Watch the video of the lessons on the website.

This is a lot of information but it is simple and easy to follow this curriculum. Each country study opens in a PDF and all of the links you need for printing or videos are embedded in the PDF. You can even check off your progress on the website.


lighthouseMiss J is 8 and in 3rd grade. She has been working, somewhat inconsistently (my fault), on a continent study for the past year or so. This program was a perfect fit for her. We have enjoyed doing a country or two per week. She enjoys it and wants to complete a country each time we open the program.

Let’s Go Geography is written in such a way that you can do one country each time you use the program or you can break it up into several small sections and take several days to study the country. Either way would work well. This means it is an easy addition to your schedule and it takes almost no preparation.

Miss J enjoys studying the countries and we have found several things that have been rabbit trails in this study. What a wonderful things to experience.

  • She asked about maple syrup after studying the US Northeast. We dug ours out and saw it was made in Vermont. Perfect for a taste test.
  • After reading about maple candy and maple leaves with Canada, we found some maple candy at a store and got to eat it.
  • After watching the sugar cane video, she wanted to know more so we spent another 45 minutes finding more videos about sugar cane, how to use it, how to plant it, etc. That really brought Haiti to life for her and connected her to it.

That is what we are looking for in programs – connections! Let’s Go Geography definitely has that kind of connection for her.

volcanoes in Nicaragua

Back to how we used it each time, though. I would go through the PDF ahead of time and print off the pages we would need. I did not print the entire PDF for any of the countries since some of it is a cover page or instructions. She 3-hole punched the pages and placed them in her travel journal in the appropriate section (sections are by continent). We then would work through each of the pages – coloring maps and flags, pasting the flags where they go, answering questions, watching videos, and doing the craft or coloring page. She did either the craft or the coloring page for each country. If she had questions or interests that cropped up in the middle of the study, we followed them. If that meant we didn’t get through the whole country that day, it was fine. We just picked up where we left off.

lei from Hawaii

We often took this with us to her sister’s dance class and worked on it there, since we have plenty of time to sit and wait. It made a perfect project to take with us on the go if I printed it ahead of time. Except for one thing – when I transferred the PDF to my Kindle the links don’t work (we did still have internet access). The PDF reads fine but the links are no longer embedded. This is a fault of the Kindle, not the program. Easy to fix, though. I just planned ahead, opened the links, copied them, and emailed them to myself. We were then able to watch the videos.

While we have not yet reached a review lesson (lesson 12 is the first), the review lessons are really good! They review all of the countries studied thus far for the continents being looked at. There is extensive map work for the older students and plenty of good map work for the younger ones, as well, learning more about maps than has been discussed so far and encouraging as much work as possible to be done from memory. With matching activities and writing activities, the review lessons are packed full.

travel journal and passport


We really like this program. It is simple enough to follow and do the planning for. But, best of all, Miss J enjoys learning and is making connections with the countries we are studying.

Miss J says:
It is very fun. I have no idea why they did not call it “Let’s Go Geography Fun!” I like that it has fun activities and that you can mostly do them all if you have a printer. I think my friends would like this.

At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about Let’s Go Geography.

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

What I Read – August 2017

What I Read August 2017

I enjoyed quite a variety of literature in August. I am working pretty hard to find a few minutes each day to read just for me. It brings me calm and peace and I truly enjoy stretching my mind a bit.

The reading I am listing here is in addition to a good, personal, Bible study each morning. Some days I do better than others. Right now, I am reading through I & II Corinthians a few times. We are studying and teaching this for Bible Bowl this year so I am trying to become very familiar with it.

Caleb's ChoiceCaleb’s Choice – G. Clifton Wisler

This is an easy to read chapter book that would easily be considered a living book. Wisler wrote several books that are historical fiction but so well done that the reader finds himself a part of the story. During the 1860s in Texas, Caleb is sent to live with his aunt after hard times hit his family. He finds a loving home with hope and joy. He also finds himself in the middle of a dilemma: does he help slaves trying to escape to freedom or walk away and pretend he knows nothing about it? Either way, at least two lives are on the line.

Drummer Boy of VicksburgDrummer Boy of Vicksburg – G. Clifton Wisler

Another living book by Wisler, this one takes place during the Civil War, as well. Orion Howe is a drummer boy and he has a responsibility. By fulfilling his duty, he helps many and inspires those around him. During the battle at Vicksburg, Orion sticks it out in the midst of significant hardship, injury, and loss.

CapturedCaptured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier – Scott Zesch

This book is an in-depth look at the period of time in Texas when many of the settlers had children kidnapped by Indians. This was an ongoing problem that the government had no control over. Zesch took on this topic because he wanted to know more about his own ancestor who had been captured by Indians in Texas. There are many stories followed through this book and a look at the lives those captured lived.

Many ideas are discussed, including the Indianization of those who lived to take up residence with the Indians. Their lives were quite different in the Indian camps and many were never able to reassimilate into white culture.

This was a really fascinating look at the people affected by the raids, including many whose loved ones were killed or badly maimed. It is not an easy to book to read and there are some very graphic passages, as the Indians and whites were not kind to one another. It is, however, a perspective on the history of Texas that is not discussed in depth very often. I definitely enjoyed this read.

Memory Keeper's DaughterMemory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards

Twins, born in the middle of a blizzard. Twins, one perfectly healthy and the other with the recognizable signs of Down’s syndrome. A quick, final decision to send his daughter away changes Dr. David Henry’s life, his marriage, his own strength of character. He believes he is doing right but the nurse asked to take her to the institution refuses to leave the precious child. Instead, she disappears and raises the child as her own.

This story is one of independence and dependence, mixed and interfering with each other. Life is lived, not in a bubble separated from other things, but in moments of interaction. This is a lovely story of love stronger than duty and right motives changing lives. It was an interesting read that I was glad Annette had suggested.

Road To ParadiseRoad to Paradise – Karen Barnett

An interesting take on a novel setting, this story is set in Mt. Rainier National Park in the late 1920s. Margie Lane is not your normal girl and she comes to Mt. Rainier in not-your-normal way. She is escaping something, or someone, but she tries hard to fit in at Mt. Rainier as a ranger. Except the men around don’t want a woman getting in their way. Can Margie find a way to be a part of the park without getting in the way, without getting involved, and while still managing to be inconspicuous to the outside world?

This was a fun take on a novel. The setting was appealing to me, as I find all National Parks interesting right now. So, setting a novel in one was kind of fun. The novel was easy to read and enjoyable, clean and still exciting. A few bits were forced or contrived but it was still a good, quick story to read. I’ll link up my full review here in the next few days.

Teaching From RestTeaching From Rest – Sarah Mackenzie

I wrote about this book not long ago. I loved where it started – what is rest? We think of this is one way but really, it is a wrong way to think. Thinking of rest as unstressed, peaceful is a start but what she is driving at in this book is not that. It is being fully enveloped in God’s rest and facing each day, each moment, from there, facing what God has placed before you to do. This is teaching from rest.

The Whole Town's TalkingThe Whole Town’s Talking – Fannie Flagg

Another fun read! This one take you back to the very beginning, to the founding of the town. As the active members of the town pass on, they are buried in the town cemetary. But their participation in the history of the town doesn’t stop there. The discussions that happen in that cemetary? Well, it is fun and interesting. Lots of characters show up that tie many of Fannie Flagg’s books together and make for a fun and interesting read.

Memories With Food at Gipsy HouseMemories with Food at Gipsy House – Felicity & Roald Dahl

This is a combination memoire and cookbook. Written by Roald Dahl and his wife Felicity, this is a unique look at an author that many are familiar with. The book moves forward with anecdotes, almost all of which center around family, friends, and home. Of course, food is a big part of it as well. With lovely photographs and thoughts, the recipes are interesting and inviting. The thoughts are shared by Roald Dahl, his wife, and their children, grandchildren, and family friends. Pull up a chair and a cup of tea and dive into this delightful book.

What did you read in August? Please share something in the comments for me to add to my reading list.

At Home.

Imagine . . . The Great Flood ~ a Crew review

Historical fiction is a favorite genre to read in this house. Barbour Publishing send us a book of biblical fiction for kids – Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich – to review.

Before you open this book, I highly suggest that you and your reader become very familiar with the Biblical narrative of the flood story and life of Noah found in Genesis 6-9. This allows the reader to have a solid foundation for the basis of the story.

IMAGINE... The Great Flood

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich  is a kids fiction time-travel novel based in a somewhat historical setting. We believe the flood narrative found in Genesis is history and is true. Imagine. . .The Great Flood uses this Genesis narrative loosely as its basis.

Corey Max is playing with his dog and his mom at the park, unhappy about the upcoming move across the country, when he finds himself unexpected and inexplicably transported back to ancient Mesopotamia where he meets Shem, the son of Noah. Corey finds himself in the middle of Noah’s family collecting animals to place on the ark that God told Noah to build in preparation for the coming great flood.

The people in the surrounding countryside do not believe in the coming flood and, for some unexplained reason, feel it necessary to interfere with the collection of animals to load on the ark. From Nephilim who are trying to kill Corey to a sorcerer who can magically transport himself anywhere to a false friend who betrays Corey, there is a lot going on that keeps Corey from helping Noah and his family, including having to fight for his life more than once. Throughout it all, though, Corey finds that many of the truths his mother has taught him are coming to mind and helping him find a strength and courage he never knew he had. Will he survive and be able to return home? Or will he perish in the flood?

Imagine title


There are many truths about God that are focused on in the story and I think this is the best part of this novel. The truths include:

  • God never changes.
  • God is in control.
  • God meets us in hopeless places and can provide a way.
  • God can do anything.
  • God keeps His promises.

I really appreciated that there were these truths about God that kept popping up, though sometimes it was contrived and did not fit naturally into the story. Most of the time, however, these were a natural flow in the story and fit well into the overall theme of God being in control.


When I read historical fiction, I expect that the details of the historical event will not be altered in any significant way and that I can still find the facts of the event in the story. This is where my concern with this book lies and is the basis for me not recommending this book to young readers, especially if they are not very well versed in the Biblical account of the flood found in Genesis. There are many details in this novel that alter or add plausible details to the account and young readers may not be able to make that distinction. When we have a moldable mind reading these details, it can permanently alter their understanding of the Biblical story and become part of that story in their minds. This is a dangerous slope to find ourselves on and this book places us firmly on that slope.

Some examples of these details that a young mind could see as plausible? In the story on page 17, Shem tells Corey that as long as he is holding the staff, the animals will obey him. As an adult, I can read that and know it is imaginary and false detail for the purpose of the storyline in the book. A child may not be able to make that distinction. Another one is the assumption that the people around called them crazy and did many things to prohibit the building of the ark or the loading of the animals. These details are believable but are not included in the Biblical narrative. These are details that a child could easily believe and add to their mind’s understanding of the story. These are just a couple of example but there are many more that brought concern to my mind.

Our children are exposed so much to magic, especially dark magic and evil arts. I do not see a Christian book series as a place to add these things. There is no reason to add a magician who can magically transport himself from place to place into this story line.

An additional concern I have is that there is no documentation for this story. There is not even a Biblical reference. When I read historical fiction, I expect to find a bibliography for the background research done. There is none with this and that concerns me.


I tend to love historical Christian fiction, especially when it is well done about Biblical narratives. There is much to be gained from being able to understand more about what the every day lives of people in the Bible might have been like. This book falls short for our family. Much of what I wrote in the concerns section were actually brought up by the two older girls. These were original thoughts by the 13 and 11 year old readers and echoed concerns I also had. I did not allow our 8 year old to read this book due to the concerns I had.

I know that there are plenty of folks who will have no problem with this book. And for them, this book will provide a fast paced adventure that is full of one difficulty after another for Corey to overcome.

At Home.

To read what other Crew families thought of this Biblical fiction for kids, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking on the banner below.


Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}

Crew Disclaimer

One Day! – hymn

One Day

For the last couple of weeks, this hymn has been sung around our home. Over and over. Often that drives me bananas but this hymn just has something about it that forces my mind to be joyful. There is so much joy, so much hope just built into the lyrics of this song. My hope rises and my soul rejoices when I hear my giggly girls breaking out in song and singing about Jesus’ love, His dying for me, and that One Day when He will come back.

It reminds me of a question that our preacher asked this morning in worship. We often think about our risen Savior but do we often remember that this same Savior will be coming back in clouds of glory? Do we remember that until He comes, we are to be reflecting His love, His light?

It is a good song to help me see that One Day is coming and I need to be prepared for that.

Want to hear it sung? Visit OCU’s Great Songs Chapel.

At Home.

One Day

J. Wilbur Chapman, 1910
Charles H. Marsh, 1910

1 One day when Heaven Was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was As black as could be,
Jesus came forth To be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried My sins far away;
Rising He justified freely forever:
One day He’s coming– O glorious day! 

2 One day they led Him Up Calvary’s mountain,
One day they nailed Him To die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He![Chorus]

3 One day they left Him Alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He![Chorus]

4 One day the grave Could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore![Chorus]

5 One day the trumpet Will sound for His coming,
One day the skies With His glory will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved One bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine![Chorus]

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