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Friday, October 24, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher

by Diane Estrella

christmas at rose hill farmAbout the Book

Bess Riehl is preparing Rose Hill Farm for her Christmas wedding, but her groom isn’t who she thought it would be. Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge, his family, or Bess. And that suits Bess just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word, without any explanation? It’s time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes to Amos Lapp, Billy’s cousin and best friend. But as Bess and Amos’s wedding day draws near, her emotions tangle into a tight knot. She loves Amos. Yet she can’t forget Billy.

When a “lost” rose is discovered at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. Get in, identify the rose, and get out. That’s his plan. The only catch is that he’s having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose, and he can’t get those tropical blue eyes of Bess Riehl out of his mind.

As the history of the lost rose is pieced together, it reminds Bess and Billy–and Amos, too–that Christmas truly is the season of miracles.

Join bestselling, award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher for an Amish Christmas to remember. Filled with heart-twisting moments amid the sweet anticipation of love, this story will charm readers into the holiday spirit.

My Review

I am always skeptical if a shorter novel will pack just as much punch as a full-length story does. I am happy to announce that Christmas at Rose Hill Farm more than tells a full and fulfilling story of rejection, reconciliation and ultimately redemption.

This book is a prequel to the Stoney Ridge Season series the author previously wrote. I enjoyed learning about Amos’s daughter in that series and thoroughly adored finding out how it all began for Amos in this, the author’s latest book. Things don’t always turn out the way we hope or expect, but sometimes, even through heartache, they actually become better than we ever could have dreamt possible.

I feel like I got a huge botany lesson on roses. The author did a ton of research to give wonderful detail on the art of rose rustling and identification. Very informative and interesting too!

This is a perfect read for Christmastime with the themes the author included. Miracles, and new beginnings, and angels are all around. This was a lovely story that I will be happily passing on to both my 14 year old daughter and 82 year old aunt. A winning book from young to old. Enjoy!

Buy it Here

Revell sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Revell.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Helping Your Child Set Academic Goals

by Diane Estrella

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Goals are important to set because they give a child something to focus on and work towards. It also allows them to see how far they have come when they achieve their goal and provides a pretty good reason to celebrate! The problem is that many kids don’t create any and some who do end up creating goals that are nearly impossible to reach. For example, a child practically failing algebra may have the goal to get an A, but if only half a semester is left and they would have to get perfect grades on everything it is unlikely they will hit their goal. This can leave them feeling bad about themselves when they should be thrilled that they bumped that D- to a B. Helping your child set academic goals ensures they are not impossible, but challenging enough to demand an effort. It is a bonding experience, too.

  • Speak to Them Alone – If you have multiple children in the home it is important to talk to each one separately. Quite often, kids will hold back a little out of fear of being judged by a sibling, or they try to be an overachiever to outdo the other person’s goals. These goals should be personal and not influenced by goals set by anyone else. Talk to them individually where no one else can hear.
  • Explain the Importance of Goals – Some kids can be resistant to these conversations. The ballerina or the quarterback with a big future in front of them may not see the purpose of setting academic goals. They need to understand that goals help them focus their attention on priorities. You have probably already explained the importance of a good education because sometimes talent won’t get them everywhere they want to go in life.
  • Find Out What They Want to Improve – Some kids will know exactly what they want to accomplish. Others will need a little help. Find out what they want to improve upon. It could be as ambitious as getting straight A’s, but it could simply be improving their use of punctuation.
  • Write Them Down – Goals should always be written down. You feel more accountable for things when you do. You want them to be able to read their goals to stay on track.
  • Make it Fun – Rewards are always welcome. Little ones may be thrilled with stickers on a goal chart. Teenagers might need a little incentive to keep them motivated.
  • Provide the Right Environment – Kids need a good study space. Four kids at the kitchen table equal nonstop distractions. Give them personal space. Bean bag chairs are the best pieces of furniture to study in. You can sit in one reading for hours and your back won’t hurt. Plus, quality ones last a really long time and they are perfect for kids of any age. You can get them from online stores like ProHomeStores.com. Lastly, make sure they have good lighting.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Chores for Toddlers to Preteens

by Diane Estrella

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Kids can start handling chores when they are as young as 2 years old. Obviously these responsibilities will differ greatly from the chores you expect a 15-year-old to handle, but they can still put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket and help with making their bed. If you are creating a chore list for a child under the age of 10, you may not be too sure what they can and cannot handle. This list of ideas will help. Of course, younger children will need parental help or supervision, but kids 8, 10, or 12 years old should be able to handle most of these.

  • Clean and fill a pet’s water bowl every day
  • Make their bed in the morning before school
  • Set and clear the table
  • Load the dishwasher (older kids can rinse the dishes first)
  • Help prepare food for meals (break up lettuce for salads, etc.)
  • Match socks in pairs when the laundry comes out of the dryer (the job everyone hates)
  • Hang up their towels in the bathroom after a bath or shower
  • Choose their daily outfit for school
  • Put their backpack in their room after school
  • Put their bike and outside toys away before it is time to be inside for the evening
  • Arrange decorative pillows on the sofa nicely
  • Empty indoor trash cans from bedrooms and bathrooms into one large can
  • Fold and put away laundry (younger kids can do towels)
  • Clean floor fountains (kids can clean tubing of fountains like those at SoothingWalls.com)
  • Set their alarm clock for school and wake up using it
  • Fill out thank you cards for gifts they receive for birthdays, Christmas, and other occasions
  • Keep their bedroom clean
  • Help pack lunches
  • Pull weeds from the cracks in the driveway (older kids can pull them from flower beds)
  • Assist with checking smoke alarms monthly (create a schedule to initial when this is done)
  • Put toys away in appropriate places
  • Help carry in light bags of groceries when you get back from the grocery store
  • Clean mirrors and low windows with vinegar and water
  • Remove sheets from beds on laundry day and put sheets back on when they are clean

It’s important to not expect kids to know what they are supposed to do. Create chore charts or lists. Make chore time fun. Do power cleaning for 15 minutes after dinner every day. Let them work for stars they can cash in for something new. If you make chores fun, they will be eager to help.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Wall Art & Home Decor available at Fulcrum Gallery

by Diane Estrella

fulcrum gallery_WallMirrors

I like it when small changes make a big impact… And it is so easy to do especially in home decorating. Sometimes, just rearranging furniture or adding one special piece of wall art can really go a long way to a new outlook in a room. I love finding a new addition that creates a whole new ambiance to a tired old space. Fulcrum Gallery did just that for me. My mantle was drab and needed to be the focal point of the room. It is too pretty to be overlooked in all the clutter of life. I found just the thing. A beautiful beveled mirror with gold accents was just the item needed to bring the room more into focus. It added light and a brightness to my living room along with some height that I always enjoy. Walls are tall, why not find pieces that draw your eye up as well?? (That way they won’t see the dusty floor or dirty rug.) I really like how the mirror brought the whole mantle together and made it stand out.

I love the hearty hardware that is included to hang the mirror. It is heavy so it needs extra support. That mirror is not going anywhere now! A few screws later and wallah! a brand new piece of beauty is here! I was able to select the size mirror I wanted, standard or beveled glass, and if I wanted it to hang tall or wide. Fulcrum Gallery did the rest and it came out perfect. I love it and so does my entire family.

mirror back

Plus, your Satisfaction is Unconditionally Guaranteed. They stand behind their work 100%. All mirrors are custom framed to meet your exact specifications. If for any reason you’re not completely satisfied with your wall mirror, you can return it within 30 days, and they will either replace it or refund your money, less shipping charges. That is a comfort to have this assurance in case you get it home and it just doesn’t work out for whatever reason.

mirror

You can find Fulcrum Gallery on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest here.

Check them out and see if there is a custom framed mirror or other wall art or home décor that speaks to you. Spice up that tired wall and make it dazzle!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free from Fulcrum Gallery. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Friday, October 03, 2014

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker

by Diane Estrella

doctor who the crawling terror

“Well, I doubt you’ll ever see a bigger insect.”

Gabby Nichols is putting her son to bed when she hears her daughter cry out. ‘Mummy there’s a daddy longlegs in my room!’ Then the screaming starts… Alan Travers is heading home from the pub when something rushes his face – a  spider’s web. Then something huge and deadly lumbers from the shadows… Kevin Alperton is on his way to school when he is attacked by a mosquito. A big one. Then things get dangerous.

But it isn’t the dead man cocooned inside a huge mass of web that worries the Doctor. It isn’t the swarming, mutated insects that make him nervous. It isn’t an old man’s garbled memories of past dangers that intrigue him.

With the village cut off from the outside world, and the insects becoming more and more dangerous, the Doctor knows that no one is safe. Not unless he can decode the strange symbols engraved on an ancient stone circle, and unravel a mystery dating back to the Second World War.

The Review

I was extremely excited when Mom told me I would be able to get a chance to review this book. Though I’m not a die-hard Doctor Who fan, I do enjoy watching it occasionally. And although I have only seen the first episode of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor, I like him quite a bit. (But not as much as Matt Smith!) So you can tell I was looking forward to reading this book.

I’m afraid to say it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading the book and thought the plot was “brilliant,” (no pun intended) but the beginning was a bit slow and a lot confusing. It may just be because I haven’t seen all the episodes, but I didn’t really understand what was going on until near the ending. Sure, giant bugs attacking, I get that, but how and why they were attacking slowed me down. I had to stop reading for a bit just to try and figure out how I got to where I was and if I missed anything. Also, some of the characters died early on and that is a big book turn-off for me. Plus, the dialogue switched around a lot from person A’s point of view to person B’s, and I couldn’t keep up. Happily, by the ending I knew what was going on, and I understood how and why.

Now, this book was not bad and I don’t regret reading it, but I feel that someone with more DW experience than I, would have a much better time reading and understanding it than I did. I would recommend this book to all my friends who watch the show, but to someone who doesn’t get or hasn’t heard of Doctor Who I would rather they watch the show for a more clear perspective. Then maybe after a couple seasons they could read it. Overall, you should give it a go.

Buy it Here

Waterbrook Press sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Waterbrook Press.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Write for Life: Volume One by Karen Lange

by Diane Estrella

Write for Life Volume 1 offers lessons that guide teens through the process of writing the research paper.

WriteforLife_light

Write for Life: Volume 1: Writing the Research Paper

This book offers ready to use lessons for grades 7-12 that guide students through the process of writing the research paper. Suitable for homeschool families, co-ops, or other student groups, these eight lessons break down the process from start to finish with helpful instruction, encouragement, and practice.

Lesson topics include:

  • MLA style research paper basics, topics, and sources
  • Thesis statements
  • Outlines
  • Developing content
  • Rough and final drafts
  • Citing sources

No matter what we do in life, good communication skills are an important ingredient for success. Strengthening students’ writing enhances verbal and other interpersonal skills and helps prepare them for a lifetime of good communication.

Since 2005, Karen Lange has used these lessons to teach homeschool teens at the Homeschool Online Creative Writing Co-op. She believes that everyone can improve their writing skills with a good balance of instruction, encouragement, and practice.

karen langeAbout the Author

Karen Lange is a homeschool veteran, homeschool consultant, freelance writer, and online writing instructor for adults and homeschooled teens. Karen and her husband homeschooled their three children for grades K-12 in southern New Jersey. They now live in north central Kentucky where Karen enjoys reading, walking, and playing with her grandson. She is a fan of dark chocolate, hockey, and historical fiction.

Book synopsis

No matter what we do in life, it is necessary to communicate. We interact with and express ourselves to others daily, so good communication skills are important. Improving students’ writing skills can enhance other means of communication, thus equipping them with lifelong skills.

This book provides ready to use lessons that help provide the tools develop necessary skills for lifelong communication for grades 7-12. It is suitable for use for homeschool families or co-ops or other student groups, it guides students step by step through the writing process. Each unit includes user friendly lessons and assignments that provides instruction, friendly encouragement, and practice.

These are designed to stretch skills and imaginations to help students write and think more creatively. It provides interaction with peers and personalized feedback and guidance from the instructor. This co-op is designed to develop and reinforce good writing skills. Think of it as cross training for writing. Using a variety of lessons, assignments, suggested activities students are encouraged to develop their skills. No stress allowed! Writing is a process – with practice and the right tools anyone can improve.

Volume 1: Writing the Research Paper, 8 lessons and assignments that guide students through the writing process of writing the research paper.

Volume 2: Essay Writing

Volume 3: Creative Writing

Volume 4: Flash Fiction

My Review

My daughter, who is in the ninth grade, seems to have above average writing skills (I’ll say she gets that talent from me… ahem). Don’t we wish expressing one’s thoughts was so easy for every child?!? My son just started seventh grade, and I will be the first one to admit his writing skills are less than glorious. He does not enjoy reading and hence also does not enjoy writing as well. I think Karen’s book, Write for Life, may have some useful tips that I can apply to his English homeschooling curriculum.

Volume One discusses writing a research paper. I like how the author broke down the eight lessons into weekly projects for the student to accomplish. This book shows the student the correct formatting involved in a research paper along with tips on how to put their own unique personality into it. I like the examples the author includes and how she stresses the importance of getting different eyes on it to see it through different viewpoints. There are also “fun” activities included, that I’m sure my son will not think are fun, but this gives additional practice to struggling students.

This is a short but concise book that I think would be of benefit to many students. Whatever your age or the subject, being able to clearly share and discuss your findings with the world is important. I think this book will help build confidence in your child’s writing process and teach them the tools to successfully write a research paper.

Buy it Here

The author sent me the above e-book for review purposes. She will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Karen Lange.