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Our Family

Monday, October 31, 2016

Review: Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble

Book Description:

 “I need you to keep these girls safe . . .”

 Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.

 Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family. The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance.

 Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last.

 Set on the beautiful coast of Maine, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens brings together suspense, romance, and the hope that one day new life will come again."

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens is the third and final book in the Sunset Cove series that takes place on the coast of Maine.   While you could read this as a stand alone novel, reading the entire series will give you a much better picture. We first met Kate in the first book, The Inn at Ocean's Edge when she was struggling with a life threatening illness and found herself in the middle of a dangerous family situation.  She also appears briefly in Book Two, Mermaid Moon.  In Twilight at Blueberry Barrens we get to know all about Kate and newcomer to the area Drake Newham.

There are several elements of mystery woven throughout the story, along with the journey of Kate and Drake from who they are to who they want to become.  We see familiar characters such as Claire and Luke from Book One and Sheriff Colton, who by the way is also a main character in Denise Hunter's Summer Harbor series which also is set in the same area of Maine (fantastic series read it!) I loved the mystery and suspense and the way the author chose to bring resolution to the series.  I enjoy suspenseful novels but do not enjoy graphic or gory books which is one of the reasons I enjoy reading Colleen Coble's books so much.  You can have suspense and romance without it being inappropriate or overly scary.

There were several things that are quite unrealistic, like the lack of security or protection measure, but it is fiction and made for a great weekend read.  I did figure out before the end, will you?

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 9

At the end of last week, I started getting a sore throat, headache, and cough.  This happens every year in October/November, although this year it seems to be hanging on longer then usual, and it is not easy to homeschool when most of what you do involves reading aloud!  We muddled through the week ok although we did skip a few things this week.  We started our week with a half day because my parents were with us until lunch time.

Week 9 in our Homeschool

P.E.: We did not do any formal P.E. this week.

Bible: In Windows on the World we read about Columbia.  The memory verse for this week was Matthew 5:14.  Our Bible reading was Matthew 5:43-6:18.

Read Aloud: For our morning read aloud we started reading Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer.  We finished our afternoon read aloud, The Incredible Journey (and watched the movie for our Friday night movie), I did not start a new afternoon read aloud this week.  For our evening read aloud we finished Kneeknock Rise (not completely sure what I thought of this book but the children found it interesting) and started The Borrowers.

Poetry: We are still working on Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore.

E.C.C: So we are 9 weeks in.  I like this curriculum but do not love it. I love having everything laid out for me.  I love that I could buy everything all together.  I love the list of suggested read alouds. There is just not enough information for me so far on the different countries and cultures.  I keep feeling like I need to find things to add to it and I don't think I should have to because that's why I bought a boxed curriculum.  The science has not been as interesting as I had hoped and the art projects have been very craftsy but not so much artsy.  The Bible portion does not have any discussion question. We will keep plugging along.

This week we headed to South America to start learning about Brazil.  We did a map of South America, read some facts, and completed a crossword puzzle.  We talked about the money that is used in Brazil.  Our vocabulary word was zone.  In the science portion we learned about tropical rain forests.  They shaded a world map showing where to find tropical rain forests and did a greenhouse experiment with seeds.  We did not complete the other worksheet that was in the notebook for tropical rain forests I found a page on notebookingpages.com that I liked better.  Lily started the South America section of the Book of Animals.

Art: We did not do the suggested craft for Brazil, instead we sketched a frog and beetle from a Geography through Art lesson and added those to our notebook.

Science: We did not do any Exploring Creation with Astronomy this week.  We did start watching Biology 101 last week and continued watching the videos this week (upcoming review.) I had heard so much about the 101 series and was super excited to have a chance to review one.  We have been very impressed with it so far!

Language Arts: We did lesson 6 of Fix It! Grammar.  Anthony and Christian also learned about the difference between autobiography and biography and wrote their own autobiography.  Nick is working through his sentence diagramming book.  Lillian's lesson taught when to use "a" and "an." Alex's lessons have been on possession and plural possession.

Spelling/Reading: Lily completed lessons 45 and 46 in AAR Level 2.  In AAS the boys completed Step 10 and they completed lessons 25 and 26 in AAR Level 4.

Math: Nick completed lesson 8 in MUS Geometry.  Alex completed 3 lessons in Teaching Textbooks.  Christian, Lily, and Anthony completed 4 lessons in Math Lessons for a Living Education.  This curriculum had been very easy so far for Lily and not challenging her at all but I am thankful for that right now.  Christian and Anthony have done well with it so far.  I really like all the real life examples and the constant review.

MFW Creation From A to Z: Emmie started the unit for "d for dinosaur."  Emmie loves worksheets and wants school work all of the time.  I printed her out some dinosaur coloring pages and dot to dots to color during our morning school work and some letter "d" pages from notebookingpages.com to go along with this unit.  She also did her picture card page, sound discrimination page, and handwriting page.  We read "What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?" and made a dinosaur out of clay.

Lily made a flower while Emmie was making her dinosaur.

All American History and God's Design in Nature: Nick completed lesson 32 in Volume 1 of AAH.  He is working through this faster then I thought he would and has completed through Chapter 4 worksheet 4 in science putting him halfway through week 9's assignments.

The girls decided they wanted to go bird watching one day this week in the backyard.  They found binoculars and packed a backpack full of snacks, paper, and colored pencils, plus Pinky and Snowy.  They saw a woodpecker but no other birds.

Other Activities this Week:

Monday Alex had a soccer game at 6 and Christian had one at 7.  This was Alex's last regular season game.

Tuesday the girls had gymnastics.  Christian had a soccer practice at 6 and Alex had his first tournament game.  They won.

Wednesday was Kid's Club.  I stayed home hoping some rest would make me feel better faster ( I do feel better but still am coughing.)  Art came and got the children and took them, went back to work, and then picked them up.

Thursday we had a 4 H meeting and both boys had soccer practice at 6.

Friday we had to run some errands and do our grocery shopping.  One of the errands was Alex trying to practice driving the robot our STEM team built.  He only was able to practice a few minutes and something broke.

Saturday we went back to practice driving and try to complete the course in the 3 minute time period.

Later that evening we headed to Murfreesboro for the Diamonds in the Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat.

I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!

Friday, October 28, 2016

October Nature Seekers 4 H Meeting

Community Service is a big part of 4 H.  Individual 4 H clubs usually do one or more community service projects a year.  4 H families often do several family community service projects and often there are county wide service projects going on.  As the children get older there are service projects at the state, regional, and national levels as well.

The Nature Seekers have done many community service projects over the years including buying gifts for the angel tree, donating books for a 4 h book sale, donating items to the animal shelter, making ornaments, door knockers, and painting pumpkins for the nursing home.  For the last couple of years we have purchased items, packed, and shipped  a few Operation Christmas Child boxes.  I think Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful service project, especially for children and families.

This year I contacted a local church that has a huge OCC ministry and also serves as a local collection center to see if there was anything the Nature Seekers could do to help. I had 9 children and 2 adults attend this month's meeting. They were excited about our interest in helping and started out by showing a video all about OCC.

They also showed the children their large stock of items to pack into OCC boxes.

They set up an assembly line for the children to pack the boxes.  We were packing boxes for boys.  Each box got a notebook, coloring book, pencil and sharpener, box of crayons, washcloth and soap, comb, toothbrush and tooth paste, rubber duck and bouncy ball, toy car, gloves, candy, stuffed animal, and a card.  The boxes were rubber banded and packed into a larger box. The children worked very quickly and had packed 50 boxes in 12 minutes!

The sweet people had brought a snack for the children so they enjoyed that while they restocked our assembly line.

We came back and packed another 75 boxes.

The children really enjoyed helping pack boxes and can't wait to go back.  The workers at the churc were very impressed with the children and asked us to come back next year. My children are eager to get their own boxes packed for OCC.  If you would like to find out more about this ministry, visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.  National Collection Week is November 14th-21st.

Homeschool Crew Review: CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
This review is not just for homeschoolers.  Are you looking for a special gift for someone?  CrossTimber offers a variety of personalized gifts including the Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse that I had an opportunity to review.   
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
Every name has a special meaning.  CrossTimber researches the meanings of names, pairs them with a Bible verse and prints them on a beautiful plaque, mug, music box, name card or book mark.  They offer a wide variety of backgrounds to choose from including: Faith and Inspiration Backgrounds, Animal Backgrounds, The Great Outdoors, and People and Relationship backgrounds.  They offer two different sizes on their name plaques.  You can choose with a 7x9 or a 10 x12.  On the larger plaques you have the option to add more then one name which is perfect for couples or if you would like the name meanings on both the first and middle names.  You have options to order the print with or without a frame, or even order the pdf for you to print it out yourself.  

CrossTimber offers discounts when you place multiple orders.
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
CrossTimber is delighted to talk to you about the meaning of names.  You have the ability to chat with them on their website, or call them at 888-763-2646 to discuss name meanings and verses to go with the names.  You also can email them at John@CrossTimber.Name.

When I was chosen for this review, I already knew exactly who the gift would be for.  I chose to give the gift to my dear friend Brandy.  During my communication with CrossTimber via email, they gave me my name meaning and verse as well:

Lisa: Hebrew : Promise of God: One who is set aside for God 

John 15:15: From now on I do not call you servants, I call you friends.  You have not chosen me, but I have chosen and ordained you...that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it to you.

I looked through a lot of the background choices, but I knew exactly what I was looking for: horses.  And there were some beautiful horse backgrounds to choose from!  I chose the artist choice for my frame choice, but you do have the option to choose from different frames.

While I was browsing the site for my name meaning review gift, I noticed that CrossTimber also offers gifts with custom verses printed on them.  My daughter was about to be married and I found a design titled Love in the Sunset with 1 Corinthians 13 on it.  I thought this would make a perfect gift for them and added it to my cart as well choosing the artist choice frame.  CrossTimber added an inscription sticker on the back of the frame with the bride and groom's name and date of the wedding. 

I could not wait for the products to arrive!  When they did I was so impressed with the Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse!  It was so beautiful!

Unfortunately there was a problem with my custom verse gift.  The print was beautiful but the frame was damaged.  CrossTimber sent a refund for the cost of the frame and I picked up a frame at a local store.
the first frame's corners did not match up and had huge gaps

CrossTimber has been a great company to work with.  They put a lot of time and effort in their name meaning research and have good customer service.  They offer a wide variety of background designs so you can find something to suit every person or occasion. 

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Homeschool Crew Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers online Spanish, French, Chinese, and German languages at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels.  We recently had an opportunity to use and review Middle School German I.
Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Middle School German I, for grades 6-8, is split up into two semesters each with 90 days of lessons.  You can choose to purchase 1 semester at a time for $119 each or both semesters for $238.  You also have the option to purchase the courses with teacher support for $294 for one semester $588 for both.  The courses are online courses and nothing needs to be downloaded to your computer.  Once you purchase the course, your login is emailed to to you and you can access your course from any computer.  The courses are self paced and expire one year after your purchase date.  

Middle School German I teaches the language by focusing on 4 key areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  Each unit teaches a new vocabulary theme and grammar concept, reading and listening activities, speaking and writing activities, cultural presentations and activities to reinforce vocabulary and grammar.  Students will learn to speak and respond in conversations, become familiar with vocabulary and grammar, and learn about German culture.  The activities and instruction in this course is equivalent to the first semester of High School German I.

Each semester of the course is split into 8 units with each unit containing 10 lessons. Quizzes and tests are also given throughout the course.  The first semester contains the following units:

Unit 1: Greetings
Unit 2: School, Alphabet
Unit 3: Descriptions and Colors
Unit 4: Countries and Numbers
Unit 5: Telling Time
Unit 6: Regular Verbs
Unit 7: Irregular Verbs
Unit 8: Days, Months, Seasons
Unit 9: Year 1 Midterm

The second semester contains the following units:

Unit 10: Hobbies and Pastimes
Unit 11: Food
Unit 12: Food Continued
Unit 13: Family
Unit 14: Places
Unit 15: Animals
Unit 16: Shopping
Unit 17: Weather
Unit 18: Year 1 Final

Each day when you log in the course picks up where you left off.  Each lesson goes through a variety of activities, listening, speaking, matching, reading, and more.  As the activities are completed a check mark appears by that activity.  

Parents can see the grade book that shows the grades for the quizzes and tests or you can see all of the coursework your child has completed.

My 12 year old, 7th grade son has been using Middle School German I 4 days per week for the last several weeks, completing one lesson per day.  This was not my first review of Middlebury Interactive Languages.  In 2015 I reviewed Elementary Spanish I, Grades 3-5 with another one of my children.  He really enjoyed the Spanish program and I looked forward to this opportunity for Alex to use the German program.  My husband was born in Germany and Alex has an interest in different languages and cultures.  

I like that the program is so easy to use and requires no teaching at all from me, since I have no experience at all in the German language.  I love all of the built in review and the inclusion of learning about different parts of the German culture.  We liked the variety of activities and the ability to be able to hear the language being spoken.  

The course is challenging.  I actually almost chose the elementary course for him because he has no German background but I was afraid he would think it too babyish. Alex is not strong in English grammar or writing so attempting to do these things in German has given him a bit of a struggle at times.  He has had to redo several activities and has been frustrated when he has not done as well on graded assignments as he wished he had.  But, he has made a lot of progress since he started and will continue on through the course. 

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 8

It was a very, very busy week!  And it went by entirely too fast!  This post is a bit late but better late then never.

Week 8 in our Homeschool

P.E.: 2 days of Family Time Fitness and one morning we just rode bikes.

Bible: The memory verse was Matthew 5:12.  We read about Greenland in Window on the World, George Mueller in Hero Tales, and read Matthew 5:27-42.

Read Aloud: For our morning read aloud we finished Cameron Townsend.  We read 3 chapters of The Incredible Journey for our afternoon read aloud and started reading Kneeknock Rise for our evening read aloud.

Poetry: We started memorizing Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore.  This may take a few weeks!

E.C.C.: We finished up Canada this week.  We read some facts about Canada, did a crossword puzzle, and watched some videos on Niagara Falls and the some of the daredevils that have walked over the falls and gone over in  a barrel. For the science portion we read about plant and animal life and relationships among living things.  Our vocabulary word was continental divide.  I had intended to make some Canadian recipes to finish off the week but ran out of time.

Exploring Creation with Astronomy: We finished up the chapter on the moon.

Language Arts: Christian and Anthony wrote their final copy of their friendly letters.  Lily started a new list of "ff" words.  Nick completed several pages in his sentence diagramming book.  We did not get to Fix It! Grammar this week.

Spelling/Reading: In AAS Level 3 the boys completed Step 9.  In AAR Level 4 they completed lessons 22,23, and 24 .  In AAR Level 2 Lily completed lessons 42,43, and 44.

Math: Nick completed lesson 7 in MUS Geometry.  Alex completed 3 lessons in Teaching Textbooks 7 and Lily, Christian, and Anthony completed 3 lessons in Math Lessons for a Living Education.

MFW Creation from A to Z: Emmie finished the unit on "u'" for "us."  She made her badge, completed her cut and paste paste, blend ladder page, sound discrimination page, and drawing page. We also talked about the 5 senses.

All American History and God's Design in Nature: Nick completed lessons 27-29 in history and days 31-33 in science.

Other Activities this Week: 

Monday: Alex and Christian both had soccer games.

Tuesday: Lily and Emmie had gymnastics.

After that Christian and Alex had soccer and Nick had youth all at the same time.

Wednesday was Kid's Club.

Thursday I went and got my hair done (haven't done that in years!) and then cleaned and did laundry for the rest of the day.

Friday my parents arrived from Florida.  We met Chelsea and Cody for lunch, did some quick shopping, came back to the house and made decorations, went to the community center and decorated and had a wedding rehearsal.

Saturday was the wedding.

Sunday we had church and Chelsea and Cody came back to visit with mom and dad.

I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!