Category Archives: Uncategorized

Science Vocab with The Critical Thinking Co. ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Vocabulary can be a tricky thing, can’t it? Sometimes is just sticks with us while other times, it just seems to leave our heads as quickly as it enters. This is why I like activities that utilize vocabulary without it seeming like drill and kill. The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a book that we have been using that is a great fit for this – Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles.

The age range for this workbook is grades 4-6 but it has been a nice fit to start out the school year for my 7th grader. It is not super challenging in the grand scheme of things but it is getting her focused and she is really enjoying it. Because of how the clues are written, it is challenging her to recall vocabulary words from a great variety of science areas. This is helping bolster her science knowledge.

The book is an 8 1/2 x 11 softback book with perforated pages to make them easy to remove from the binding if desired. Photocopying of the material within one home for multiple children is allowed. We did not do this. Miss J utilized the book as is, writing directly in the workbook. There are 8 major topics covered in these crossword puzzles: living things; earth’s land, water, and resources; weather; solar system; matter, energy and force; human body; science and scientists; inventions and discoveries.

The crossword puzzles are designed with ample space for each of the letters. There are the typical set of puzzle clues for across and down. There is a choice box with answer options to choose from. At the back of the book, you find a completed puzzle for the answer key. There is also a list of the vocabulary words for each puzzle at the back of the book.

Miss J has been completing one puzzle each school day. She is allowed to choose which one she will do. This has proven to be a fun way for her to expand her vocabulary and to challenge her recall of known information. We require her to answer as much as possible from memory before asking for help or looking for help online or in books.

getting help on the Periodic Table of Elements

This does not by any stretch of the imagination constitute a complete science curriculum but it is a fun, simple enrichment activity or review. It is a fun way to start a year or to introduce a topic area. It could be a jump start for a research project or a rainy day activity. A sick child could do a lot with a book like this, also. With so many options, this is a resource that I can easily recommend.

The plants crossword jump started some research on trees, specifically sequoia and cyprus. She spent some time researching and reading about old trees.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a lot of options to choose from. In the past, we have reviewed:

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Pattern Explorer Beginning (Grades 3-4)

Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Editor In Chief Level 1

Surfing the Net: Science

We also bought and used Mind Benders Levels 3 & 4. Can you tell we have been pleased with many things from The Critical Thinking Co.™?

The Homeschool Review Crew has had families utilizing several different products from the The Critical Thinking Co.™ In addition to the Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles, families have used

Building Thinking Skills® Beginning 2
Tell Me a Story
Science Mind Benders®: Animals
Understanding Fractions
Vocabulary Virtuoso: Mastering Middle School Vocabulary

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more about each of these products.

Lori, At Home.

Spouse In The House ~ a book review & giveaway

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the I Read with Audra program (Audra Jennings PR) and the publisher Kregel Publications.

“Two is company but three’s a crowd.” We all know this adage but what happens when two are home together all.the.time? What happens when two is a crowd? That is the concern being addressed in Spouse In The House by Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby. They know all too well how crowded a space can become when your own daily routine is crowded by someone else’s routine coming home to rest. The global pandemic has caused a stress of this sort for many. But often, retirement, health, or work (from home or together in business) can crowd a space. So what then?

Ruchti and Melby tackle the issues and attitudes that show up when home space is shared continuously. The practical and humorous approach these ladies take for tackling the issue of shared space is joyful, even when dealing with not so joyful things. Their own experiences play well into their knowledge and ideas. They also ask others who are experienced in being home all the time to share their insights, funnies, and tips.

Humor is key to the issue of being home all the time, as many know from the past 18 months. The titles of the chapters highlight the necessary humor – “The Line Down the Middle”, “Love Keeps No Record of Who Cleaned the Toilet Last”, “The Sins Febreze Can’t Quite Cover,” and “It’s Still M Rib, Adam. It’s Still My Rib Cage, Eve.” There are 20 humor filled chapters in the book, along with some helpful resources that may or may not apply to you (including resources for when your marriage is not a safe place to be). Ruchti and Melby take turns writing in each chapter, both addressing the topic at hand from their own experience, marriage, and viewpoint. These ladies play off each other and boost each other’s knowledge, providing a great frame work for growth in marriage.

I found the book to be quite helpful, even though our family doesn’t fit the HHATT (He’s Home All The Time) model. Marriage tips for every marriage come through loud and strong, because good, solid, biblical attitudes are necessary for every stage of marriage. My husband does have an unusual schedule and we home educate our three children. In addition to that, the girls are quite active in dance and that means we have unusual schedules all around. The tips from Spouse In The House really are helpful for creating a home environment where everyone wants to be, where everyone feels respected and included, and where we can work, play, and just chill. Most off all, though, it makes home a place where we all want to come back to at the end of each day. And isn’t that what family is about?

While Ruchti and Melby did write a book that is biblical in character, it isn’t a “pound you over the head with Godly attitude” book. It incorporates love and Godly attitudes into the simple, loving, and daily interactions between a husband and a wife. I found it a helpful marriage book in this regard.

About the Book, from the cover:

A frank and funny look at what to do when together is too close.

Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby know all too well how adjusting to a new, all-the-time closeness can cause the bliss of marriage to form blisters. Drawing from their experiences, and from men and women across the country in the same situation, the authors take a deep breath and dive into the root causes. They dig into what God’s Word has to say, and they offer practical tips for learning the spiritual, emotional, relational, and even physical steps that can help readers replace irritation with peace.

For any couple who wants their home to be a refuge of peace and serenity for all—not just themselves—and who wants to know they aren’t alone in the mental and physical claustrophobia of too much togetherness, Spouse in the House is a vulnerable, charming, and pragmatic breath of hope.

About the authors:

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Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events, retreats, writers’ conferences, and workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” 

Ruchti’s more than thirty books have garnered reader, retailer, reviewer, and other industry awards. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a founding board member of the Deliver Hope ministry and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. 

Ruchti and her husband, Bill, live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.

Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her writing at or by following her on Facebook (@CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage), Instagram (@cynthiaruchtiauthor), and Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

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Becky Melby has authored more than twenty novels and novellas. Spouse in the House is her first non-fiction book release.

The Melbys have four sons and fifteen grandchildren and make their home in southeastern Wisconsin. When not writing or spoiling grandchildren, she may be found touring the country with Bill in their camper or on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.

Find out more about Becky Melby’s books at or follow her on Facebook (becky.melby.9) and Instagram (@beckymelbybooks). She also shares short blog posts each Friday on the Fill My Cup, Lord page on Facebook. 


Visit I Read With Audra (Audra Jennings PR) to enter the giveaway.
Will end 10/21.

Lori, At Home.

Math Essentials for middle school ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

As we prepared for this fall, my youngest daughter asked to be taken off of the computer math program we had been using and to be able to do her math from a printed book. It was really good timing because Math Essentials had just come up for review with their prealgebra program. Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2 is a two book set of softback, consumable workbooks. Together, these two books set the stage of a strong foundation for algebra, creating an algebra readiness for the student.

Creator and master teacher Richard Fisher knows that success in math relies on readiness for the upcoming ideas and concepts. In designing Basic Math Skills Rescue, he deals with what he terms the Critical Foundations of Algebra. He feels that success in understanding these ideas will result in long-term math success. There are three areas to deal with – whole numbers, fractions, and some areas of geometry and measurement. These are all addressed in this two book set.

Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 1 includes work with whole numbers and integers, fractions, and decimals and percents. Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 2 includes work with geometry, problem solving, and some more specific pre-algebra concepts. Each book is designed for a single student to work in and includes several helps at the back as well as an answer key.

Each page has a short review section up top. This is followed by a short teaching example and two sample questions to complete together. Following the samples, there are a number of questions for the student to work independently. It ends with a word problem to solve. As noted, the answer key is in the back of the book to check work. If needed, there is also access to online instructional videos to help teach the concept. The access information for this is in each book. We have not utilized these videos since she is wanting more one-on-one help this year but it is great to know they are there if she needs help when I am unavailable.

There are some really well thought-out parts to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Every lesson includes review so you never completely drop a concept until it is the main focus again. Each lesson seems to flow smoothly into the next concept focus, never big jumps in ideas that leave a student confused. The flow of each individual lesson makes sense. Each lesson is self-explanatory but does not make it hard for a teacher to guide the lesson. There are tests for each section. There is also a “resource center” at the back of the book.

The resources at the back of the book will come in quite handy as she gets into more complicated ideas. Included at the back are a glossary of terms and examples, a list of important symbols, a multiplication table to 12s, a table of common prime numbers to 1013, a table of squares and square roots, and a table of fraction/decimal equivalents.

My 7th grader has begun in book 1 and often tackles it while she eats her breakfast. This is a solid review for her of whole numbers at this point. Each concept generally has two lessons on it. She is completing one or two lessons a day at this point. As we move into concepts she is less familiar with and needs more help, we will move to a single lesson each day. Because there is not a lot of white space on each page to work the math of the problems, she also has a notebook in which she writes her problem and does the work. She then transfers the answer into the book. Using the answer key at the back, we check the work together.

If you have seen my review of previous math products from Math Essentials, you will note that they have a book titled Mastering Essential Math Skills. Because we have reviewed it before, I was quite curious to see how it relates to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 (the one we reviewed and aimed at middle and high school students) covers the same topics as our current review. However, it is all in a single book and has only one lesson per concept. Additionally, there are two speed drill wheels in the review section. I do think those are fabulous and would make a great addition to this book, also. Because it is moving twice as fast, Mastering Essential Math Skills is better suited to a student who is reviewing or is fairly familiar with chunks of the concepts and just needs a bit of review help.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families’ experiences with Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2.

Lori, At Home.

Xenakis ~ Composer ABCs

Scientific approaches to music do not tend to lend themselves to the comment of enjoyable or interesting but it certainly can be labeled interesting. This is the case with today’s composer – Iannis Xenakis. This 20th century composer has an architectural background and thus this influence on his music is very specific.

Xenakis was born in Eastern Europe to Greek parents. After his mother died (he was 5), he had a difficult childhood, resulting in being sent to Greece to attend boarding school. At this school, he participated in the choir and studied many composers. Learning notation and solfege (do, re mi, etc) was also included in his music education at this school. He moved to Athens and began university studies in 1938 but the ensuing wars cut his studies short. (The Greco-Italian War, WWI, and a civil war all took place within the next decade.) He became involved with a communist group, fighting street battles, and was severely injured, losing sight in one eye. He was sentenced to death but had his sentence commuted to 10 year and then finally, fully lifted in 1974 after yet another group took over leadership of the country.

In 1947, Xenakis fled to Paris illegally and remained there, eventually becoming a French citizen. When he reached Paris, he sought employment in an architecture agency. He was a talented architect and quickly rose from apprentice to working side-by-side with the owner of the agency, Le Corbusier. He designed many well-known buildings. This background bled into his music and composition.

He sought to learn many times and from many people but found it difficult to get instruction. He had quite unique ideas about music and finally found some encouragement from Messiaen. Xenakis’ music was methodical, mathematical, and rhythmic. It is considered minimalistic and I personally find it difficult to listen to. But, it is truly a scientific form of music as he applied formulas to composition to create some of his works.

One of his most recognized pieces is Anastenaria (1953–54): a triptych for choir and orchestra based on an ancient Dionysian ritual. The third part of the triptych, Metastaseis, is generally regarded as the composer’s first mature piece. It is often performed as a stand-alone piece.

Serialism in music, the use of musique concrète, or utilizing recorded sounds as raw musical material, applying mathematical formulae to composition, electronic music – these are all advanced 20th century composition techniques that Xenakis excelled at.

Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
O – Offenbach
P – Palestrina and Prokofiev
Q – Quilter
R – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Ravel
S – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, Sibelius
T – Tavener & Tchaikovsky
U – Ustvolskaya
V – Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos
W – Whitacre & Willson

Featured Last Week for the Letter W:
– Every Bed of Roses chatted about Writing Cursive
– Our Homeschool Notebook showed a lego World
– Homeschooling Highway included a set of Homeschooling Tips: W

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the I Read with Audra program (Audra Jennings PR) and the publisher Kregel Publications.

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon J. Mondragon is just the book I needed. An enjoyable story combined with well-developed characters and a push toward evangelism made for a story line that I couldn’t put down. If you have ever felt comfy in your space and routine, don’t read this one because it will push you out of that comfort zone and step on your toes and rip up your routine, making you think long and hard about what you really are doing in your zest and zeal for God.

Do you like to knit or hand craft gifts and useful items? You will want to just jump right in a become a part of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl ministry. Here’s the summary of the story and how these ladies’ lives take quite a turn, right along with their knitting. There are surprises in both!

Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran had a good thing going: meet every week in the quiet of their peaceful chapel and knit prayer shawls. No muss, just ministry. That is, until their pastor boots them out of the church in his last-ditch effort to revive the dwindling congregation.

Uptight Margaret isn’t having it. Knitting prayer shawls where people can watch is the most ridiculous idea she’s ever heard of, and she’s heard plenty. Prayer belongs in the church, not out among the heathen masses. How are they supposed to knit holiness into these shawls if they’re constantly distracted by the public? But with no choice, the others embrace the challenge. They pack their knitting bags and drag Margaret–grumbling the whole way–to the mall with them. She can’t wait to prove them all wrong when it fails miserably, and show the pastor that she always knows best.

Without the familiar mold the group has been stuck in, their own losses, pain, and struggles rise to the surface. And the people and situations they encounter every time they try to sit quietly and knit are taking them a lot further out of their comfort zone than they ever imagined. Can they find the courage to tackle the increasing number of knotty issues they learn about in the community–or will the tangle be too much to unravel?

I found the story of Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran a joy to read. I just wanted to curl up with something cozy and a glass of ice tea and just read. I wanted to know how these ladies were going to fare when they had to leave their comfort zone, especially as I read about how grumpily Margaret was taking the challenge. Once they met Sarah, I just knew something bigger was happening. And then it grew. And grew. And grew. And you know what I saw? God meeting the open hearts with people who had no idea what God could do. It made me wonder about how much I was in my comfort zone, closed off from that big and wide and messy world that needs God. I adored this story and have told my teenagers that I think they would enjoy it, too.

The characters that come into the story are amazing and I found myself really rooting for them. From pregnant Amy with the purple hair to the prayer requesters who would not sign their prayer request, from the lady who is missing her father to the mom whose child came boldly into the circle, characters are everything and this book is packed with them. The fabulous and well formed characters really made this book an extension of life.

But I bet you are wondering about “the dragon lady” part of it. You know, our attitudes and outward appearances often made us a dragon. When we allow that to be what rules us, we lose ourselves. So what happens when we finally give in and listen to God? He can do amazing work in our lives. So, you’ll have to read to find out who exactly is the dragon lady. But I will tell you – God knows we can all be a dragon and he is looking for us to give that part of ourselves up to Him so He can smooth us over into one who works for Him.

About the Author:

Sharon J. Mondragón writes about the place where kindness and courage meet. Her debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (originally titled The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) was the 2017 winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis award in the Short Novel Category, and she has also been recognized by The Saturday Evening Post where her short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was an Honorable Mention Awardee in the 2014 their Great American Fiction Contest.
Mondragón has been active in prayer shawl ministry since 2008 and currently serves as facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at her church, St. Paul Episcopal in Waxahachie, TX. She also knits with the Circle of Healing at Red Oak United Methodist Church. She is a Level 2 Certified Knitting Instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and teaches beginning knitting at a local yarn store.
Mondragón is the mother of five grown children and has four grandchildren. After 26 years as an Army wife, she has settled in Midlothian, TX with her hero/husband, her laptop, and her yarn stash.
Visit Sharon Mondragón’s website and blog at and follow her on Facebook (Sherry Mondragón) and Twitter (@SJ_Mondragón).

Final Thoughts:

Get your hands on this book. You won’t regret the read and you might just find yourself boldly asking God to take you our of the prayer chapel and into the world.


You can win a copy of this book by entering the giveaway. Visit to find the entry form.
The Rafflecopter will close on 10/19/21.

Lori, At Home.

Whitacre & Willson ~ Composer ABCs

Today we are featuring more of what I consider band composers. Eric Whitacre and Meredith Willson. Both of these men wrote for more than band but since band is where I came to know them through playing their music, well, that is how they stuck for me.

Eric Whitacre composed for band due to what is called a fluke on his website. I found it interesting that he stumbled on a rehearsal, sat enthralled listening to it, and decided he had to write a piece for that group. According to what he said, he had never written for musical instruments at that point, only voice. He studied every instrument by talking to players of that instrument and asking asking all the questions he could – What is your favorite piece to play? What range are you most comfortable in? and more. The piece that came out of that is Ghost Train and one that I must have played right after it was released. A strange piece for certain but one that brings interest to the band world.

Deep Field is a piece that I find quite interesting. It is based on imagery from the Hubble Telescope and a film was created through collaboration with Whitacre, his Virtual Choir 5 which included 8,000 voices ages 4-87 from 120 different countries, producers Music Productions, scientists and visualizers from the Space Telescope Science Institute and multi award-winning artists 59 Productions. It is imagining the deepest reaches of space. The film created for the music shows some of Hubble’s amazing images, as well as never-before-shown fly-bys of galaxies. The images in the film are stunning and go beautifully with the music. There is even an app to be downloaded and cued by the conductor when this is played live.

Whitacre was born in Nevada in 1970 and studied at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. After graduation there, which is where his first compositions came to life, he studied at Juilliard School of Music, graduating with a Master of Music in 1997. His works are actually quite varied, though I initially knew only of his band music. He has written a large body of work for orchestra, choirs, film (including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), and more. He is a visiting conductor and a speaker. He has given TED talks. He is considered to be the pioneer of virtual choirs. (Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently is below. It is a must listen.) And this is all for a composer who is still producing work. Keep your eye on this guy. His website has a list of all the compositions he has completed if you are looking for more to listen to and/or view.

Meredith Willson is going to be best known for writing The Music Man. Born in 1902 in Iowa, he has a long career as musician, composer, conductor, arranger, author, and radio personality. Shortly after high school, he was playing flute with John Philip Sousa’s band and later with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He toured and performed for a good while. His wife Rini also toured with him as a singer.

Willson wrote the script, lyrics, and music for the Broadway musical The Music Man. It was released in 1957 and played on Broadway for several years. It was then purchased for movie rights and found success on the big screen, also. The Music Man is a semi-autobiographical story of his Iowa boyhood. It includes many numbers that are well-known and the story is always a joy. (The song below is one that I often think of but I like all of the pieces. I had a hard time choosing which to post here. “Til There Was You” or “76 Trombones” or “Gary, Indiana” or others.)

Willson also wrote the book for The Unsinkable Molly Brown, another Broadway musical that was a solid success. Another of his musicals is Here’s Love but that one is not well-known.

Having spent a lot of time writing for radio, there are many, many popular songs that are credited to Willson. These include “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas,” “Till There Was You,” (a hit by the Beatles), and more. His body of work is interesting and includes campaign pieces (“Chicken Fat” was the theme song for President Kennedy’s youth fitness program) and school fight songs (University of Iowa and Iowa State Univeristy).

Willson died in 1984 in California.

Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt
M – Mussorgsky
N – Nelson
O – Offenbach
P – Palestrina and Prokofiev
Q – Quilter
R – Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Ravel
S – Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Still, Smetana, Sibelius
T – Tavener & Tchaikovsky
U – Ustvolskaya
V – Vaughan Williams and Villa-Lobos

Featured from last week the letter V…

This Week over at Our Homeschool Notebook the topic is W is for World
This week over at Every Bed of Roses the topic is Writing Cursive

Kids’ Devo Book: Roar Like a Lion by Levi Lusko ~ a book review

Disclosure: Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

Levi Lusko has a view of life that inspires and encourages. Hardship in his life has brought him close to God and his writings share that well. Roar Like A Lion: 90 Devotions To A Courageous Faith is a book of short daily devotional thoughts to share with children. The publisher recommends ages 6-10 but my personal feeling is that it is well suited as young as 4, especially because a parent will be going through it with them.

Each of the 90 devotional thoughts includes a Bible verse, some thoughts about applying that to the child’s life, a prayer to God relevant to the topic and either a Did You Know? or a Get Ready To Roar! These two page devotions open up in a simple way deep topics to delve into and discuss from a Biblical view.

Every page of the book has beautiful, bright, and colorful artwork that will capture the mind of the child as each devotion is begun. The topics are varied but are quite relevant to the students. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • facing fears about school and friendships
  • dealing with peers, including things like peer pressure and bullying
  • handling emotional times like disappointment, grief, and new challenges
  • having courage to try new things
  • understanding how we fit into God’s story and plan

Each devotion even has fun facts or interesting ideas that relate to the topic of the day in some way. For kids who really absorb trivia, these help them relate as the trivia will tie back into the topic.

These devotions are written with engaging language for younger children and new independent readers. But, as with many devotions for children, it is always best to engage as a family and study the Bible and its application to our lives together. Parents understand their children, their passions, and their needs. This makes them the right for helping a student study the Bible at their level and their applications.

You can get this book today through
On this website, you can also sign up to get a parent guide with additional questions to help guide your family into a deeper study each day.

I like the simplicity of these studies for young students or children whose families may be new to Bible study. The topics are handled on the level of the children yet with a draw towards knowing God more. I have not read all of the devotions so there may be something I am unaware of in the lessons that is not Biblical but I have not come across this at all with Mr. Lusko’s writings in the past. (I have read and enjoyed his book Through The Eyes of a Lion.)

Lori, At Home.

10th Grade Curriculum (2021)

You’ll remember, perhaps, the review we did for My Father’s World 9th grade curriculum. I like the curriculum but it is packed. It doesn’t leave much space for personal choice, courses working toward a life goal, or electives. The coursework is interesting, though the Bible leaves a lot of information out there that must be discussed with a Bible open in front of you. This adds a lot of time to the curriculum. I treasure these discussions but you have to acknowledge that time addition. There are no electives in the curriculum so when you add those in, you are again adding in time commitments. All of this impacted the fact that Miss L did not complete the MFW 9th grade curriculum, though she worked a minimum or 4 hours on book work each school day last year. That time did not include dance, violin, or time spent in other situations working on electives such as a Bible study titled Pearls that she did through the church or debate. When you count in these other things, she would spend about 6-8 hours per day on her education. She generally worked on art work and dance on Saturday and had Bible class, worship, dance, and other church activities on Sundays. So, she worked hard. Yet, there was still a lot to be done in the MFW curriculum.

The other bit you need to know about Miss L is that her long-term goal is to dance with a professional ballet company and to teach dance. This drives our education choices for her and impacted some of our choices last year. She dealt with a long-term injury last year that required about 1 to 1 1/2 hours of therapy work daily. This again impacts the amount of time she was spending on her school work. Her recovery needed to take some priority as it impacted her health, her ability to dance, and, most importantly, her attitude. If you have ever worked through pain, you understand how it impacts a lot of your life. So, we prioritized her recovery, sometimes letting the therapy work push the book work to the side. She is much better this fall and so she is driving on with all of this.

That all being said, My Father’s World is the curriculum that she is using for history, Bible, and literature. They utilize a number of different programs within this curriculum so she has the Notgrass World History, some Bible resource books, and a good number of supplemental books for history and literature.

For math, she really struggled to understand concepts last year in Algebra 1. She could not comfortably move on with Algebra II, even though her score from last year using CTCMath showed an 88% pass rate. Yet, she couldn’t use the information. (I believe CTC is a good program; it just didn’t work for her.) We have pulled out No-Nonsense Algebra and are starting from the beginning on it to really solidify some of the basic information and get her comfortable to move on into the Algebra I and II information included in this program. It won’t take her all the way through Algebra II material but it will bring her a long way into it.

She is continuing on with the Apologia Physical Science that was included in the MFW package we reviewed last year. It isn’t a favorite but she is learning the information pretty well. She is working through it at a good pace. We will likely move her into Friendly Chemistry or Friendly Biology when she finishes this program.

She is working as a student assistant at the dance studio again this year. Her is putting in about 5 hours a week for this. She is also taking ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, private ballet, and is part of the company group. Her personal classes are about 11 hours at the studio per week.

She has decided that she misses violin so she is adding that back to her schedule. We will be looking for a retirement center for her to perform at in a couple of months. I don’t know yet if we are going to get her an instructor (where would we fit it in?) but she would definitely benefit from that.

Not to be forgotten is debate. She will tackle the Lads to Leaders debate topic this year. The debate topic is as follows: Resolved: Because the Bible is God’s authoritative and complete instruction to mankind, no latter-day revelations beyond the first century are valid. It will take, as always, a lot of dedicated Bible reading, study, and preparation. She’ll work on this until Easter weekend 2022. She will also include a number of other L2L events.

She has a plate that is so full but she doesn’t want to let go of any of it. We do modify some of the lesson plans and activities in the MFW curriculum. Some of it is just busy work or something to put a grade on; there is no real synthesis of information occurring. We skip those things.

This is the student that we are really seeing the benefits of home education with. We can tailor her schedule to her needs and allow her education to support her goals, not the other way around. Too often, education comes first and the goals are decided after. Her goals were definitely there first and I constantly remind her that education will help her fulfill those goals. Perfection in physical science is not as important as her time perfecting ballet. It is a joy to be able to help her reach for the stars without the stumbling block of a traditional education.

Lori, At Home.

Husband Auditions ~ a book review & GIVEAWAY

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through I Read With Audra for the purpose of this review.

Synopsis: Meri Newberg is the last of her group of friends to marry. As the last single young woman, she gets “the gift.” When she gets to her place for the summer, renting a room from her brother who will be away for the time being, she opens it. And gets a shock she was not expecting. It is a list. To be more specific, it is a newspaper clipping of advice from the 1950s on how to catch a husband. Yep, she is completely embarrassed and ready to throw it out. After all, who would really do these?

  • #2 Fake a flat tire or pretend engine trouble.
  • #4 Move to a state with more men than women. We recommend Nevada.
  • #16 Work as a waitress or nurse. Men love being taken care of.
  • #19 Go to you local fishing pier and feign squeamishness about baiting your own hook.
  • #21 Ask a man to take your photograph. Chances are, he’ll want his own copy.
  • #100 Get your personal ad in front of as many eligible bachelors as possible. Like on a billboard.

Kai, her brother’s roommate, gets an idea. As an up and coming cameraman looking for his big break, he talks Meri into actually trying some of the ideas out AND letting him film them to post online for a new series. They start with #33 “Go to a rodeo. Rescue the Lone Ranger from himself.” So, she buys a lasso and a bandana and tries to lasso a man. Following these up are getting stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel (thanks to Kai!), visiting a ball game and pretending to not know where the seat is, faking needing help at a pool (just to find out the man is married), and many more hilarious set-ups. The series, Meri Me, is a huge and immediate hit. Everyone loves watching Meri try to catch a husband.

Before long, Kai begins to wonder about whether this is really such a good idea after all.

My Thoughts

This is a fun, quirky, page-turner book. I absolutely adored the pluck and spunk Meri shows in all of her feats of auditioning men using The List. It was such a fun read that I couldn’t put it down. It was such a nice change to have a clean Christian romance. So many times, there is just enough “romance” in those types of books that I will not read them. This one? Not a smidge of the inappropriate. In fact, I handed it to my teenage daughter (she’s 17) because I knew she’d enjoy this too. And she did. She couldn’t put it down, either. We both thought this was such a fun look at dating and how the online world is integrated into life now. I appreciated also how the characters’ Christianity was included without it being such an “in-your-face” part of the story that it becomes unreal and unrelatable. I can heartily recommend this fun read to teens and adults alike.

A major plus? I really like the emphasis on knowing yourself and what you can and should be, that doing something like getting married before you are ready to be the person you need to in a marriage is crazy. I really like the ending. I won’t spoil it but it is quite surprise and brings a smile to the reader’s face. It is what I would hope would happen for every young man and young lady contemplating marriage.

About the Author

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009, then quit writing romance
when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and
there’s nothing else she’d rather write about.

Strong’s books have since earned Top Pick honors in Romantic Times, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best sellers. Her book Finding Love in Big Sky recently filmed on location in Montana and will air soon. She also writes articles for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at Write That Book.

Besides writing, Strong teaches exercise classes, works for an airline, and enjoys Harley rides with her husband and camping with her three kids.

Learn more about Angela Strong at, or find her on Facebook (Angela Ruth Strong Fan
), Instagram (@ang_strong), and Twitter (@AngelaRStrong).

And now for the giveaways!

I Read With Audra is hosting the giveaway for a copy of the book. Visit her blog to complete the Rafflecopter entries. This will end September 14, 2021.

Also Angela Ruth Strong is giving away a round-trip airline ticket. Visit to sign up for her emails and be entered to win.

Lori, At Home.

Our God Is Able To Deliver Thee ~ hymn

Something we all need to hear and remember – “Our God is able to deliver thee.” It doesn’t matter where or what you are deep in with, God is able. Focus on Him and the fact that He is by your side. And sing away this great reminder that God is able.

  1. ’Tis the grandest theme through the ages rung;
    ’Tis the grandest theme for a mortal tongue;
    ’Tis the grandest theme that the world e’er sung,
    “Our God is able to deliver thee.”
    • Refrain:
      He is able to deliver thee,
      He is able to deliver thee;
      Though by sin oppressed, go to Him for rest;
      “Our God is able to deliver thee.”
  2. ’Tis the grandest theme in the earth or main;
    ’Tis the grandest theme for a mortal strain;
    ’Tis the grandest theme, tell the world again,
    “Our God is able to deliver thee.”
  3. ’Tis the grandest theme, let the tidings roll,
    To the guilty heart, to the sinful soul;
    Look to God in faith, He will make thee whole,
    “Our God is able to deliver thee.”
    (music and lyrics: William A Ogden 1841-1897)

Need another reminder that God will take you through whatever is going on in your life? Take a look at what Paul wrote in II Corinthians 1:3-11.

[2Co 1:3-11 NKJV] 3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you [is] steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also [you will partake] of the consolation. 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver [us], 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift [granted] to us through many.

Bobby Wheat preached on these scriptures this morning and I found it greatly encouraging. You can find that sermon on our church’s Facebook page to listen to or on our website, along with others.

As you face each day, remember, our God is able to deliver.

Lori, At Home.

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