Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Starving Hearts book review and #giveaway


Starving Hearts starts out with a Annette being nearly assaulted.  It takes several more chapters for her to overcome the aura of "cotton headed ninny muggins" that you're left with in the beginning of the book, but she eventually shows herself to be a well educated, quick witted woman.

Peter has grown up as the second son of a wealthy man with vast international holdings.  In the era of "an heir and a spare," his brother is expected to take the reins someday, while Peter is left to find his own way in the world.  He chooses the clergy, and is moving toward a comfortable life as such, but his rare interactions with Annette leave him shaken.

Starving Hearts is not only a love story, but an adventure story, too, with kidnapping, peril on the high seas, and even a peg legged pirate.  Decades-old secrets come out in a climactic finish.


Will Annette's search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? Find out in Janine Mendenhall's book one, Starving Hearts, of the Triangular Trade Trilogy. Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Join in the search for love and acceptance with Janine and Starving Hearts by entering to win the Delightful Heart Gift Pack Giveaway.

starving hearts - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
starving hearts - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on September 12. The winner will be announced September 13 on Janine's blog.

starving hearts - enterbanner


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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Our First Week of School


We did it!  We made it through the first week of school, the first week of homeschool, the first football game, and more.


These two headed back to their private, Christian high school.  Evenings with them have been full of signing papers, covering books, hearing about new teachers and new students, and a lot of energy and enthusiasm.



The rest of us get to stay at home.  Katie is showing me the drive thru she built for her bus.


We got to review a very cool playset all about China!  Since we love China, this was a big hit at our house.


We're going to be learning California history this year, so we started off coloring the California bear flag.


Our first art project this year comes from the 4th grade Home Art Studio DVD.  I've talked before about how much I love these DVDs.  They really are great.


Paul realized after I took this picture that the kids had neglected to paint the tree shadows, so we added those later.


This week was Eli's birthday!


He (finally!) got a cell phone!  He was one of less than a handful of freshmen who didn't have a phone at school last year.


In case you missed our review of Can Do Cubes, you may want to check that out.  In addition to Katie working through the printable workbooks with them, this week I had Jack do his spelling words with the cubes.


Hannah used the phonogram game tiles from our Logic of English package.  Next time we'll switch who gets what.


Years ago, I discovered A Beka's Art Projects line.  When Zach and Annaliese were little, we worked though a few of these books.  I ended up with a leftover first grade book in the school room and decided that Katie should work through that this year, since she's probably my last first grader.


Last year, I carried Eli piggyback across a parking lot after his birthday, just to prove that I can still pick up my 14 year old.  Now he's 15, so I had to give it another shot.  He's about 130# now, so I'm feeling pretty accomplished.  For an old mom.


Cake, ice cream, singing, candles.


Hannah is wicked good at Connect 4!  I like this game because it goes fast.


I made a "stack & whack" batch of leggings this week!


While I had red thread in the serger and coverstich machines, I did a red hoodie, too.  I'm starting to get into autumn mode.


Thursday was our library day this week.  The kids got 25 books, and Friday I heard, "I only have one book left to read."  Yikes.


Our library has a park next door, so we played for a while to burn off some energy and soak up some sunshine.  Call it P.E.


Our little visitors are fearless climbers now.  It's such fun to see how much they've changed since last year, and watch them explore their world.


Jack has hit that adolescent "no camera" phase, so I have to catch what I can of him, photo wise.


This is an after workout shot.  Both boys have PT/drill on Thursdays.  My Army boy and my Marine boy.  I know it's still a few months away, but the house just won't be the same without these two.


Friday was the first football game.  The players dress up for school on game days.  Brianna is having fun being a water girl.  It's like having a whole team full of brothers.  (JV lost and Varsity won.)


The mornings are getting chilly enough for a sweater or hoodie.  We have a date for our trip to the pumpkin patch.  Next week will be September.  It's starting to feel like autumn.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can Do Cubes


Part of what makes learning fun is when it can be hands on!  Such is the case with today's review product, Can Do Cubes, from jollyliteracy.com (just2ducks LLC).


When our Can Do Cubes arrived, I was impressed by the large box of wooden cubes and curriculum resources.


This shows the first tray.  The cubes themselves are made of wood, and feel good in your hands.


This is the second tray of cubes, part of the "stage two" part of the program.  See the string?  Those two cubes are attached to teach the concept of silent e.  (One of the videos addresses this, and I thought it was brilliant.)


The box included two posters with the various words you could make from each group of cubes.  We're out of wall space in our school room, so I considered cutting this up and laminating it by section, but ultimately, we simply unfold it when we do a section.


When we started out, I gave Katie the first 6 cubes and let her play with them a little bit.  Then I'd read a word from the poster and ask her to build it for me.


This is similar to how she started doing spelling last year, so it was familiar to her.


Between the two trays of blocks, in addition to the posters, there were two small books.  These are books for the parent teacher, not the child.


Book one explains how children learn language, and gives lots of fun and easy suggestions on ways to engage your child with the world around them.  It offers tips on teaching beginning phonics to your child.  The stage two book gives specific teaching tips for how to use the lower tray of cubes in teaching the more advanced phonics lessons.


The top CD ROM contains 4 workbooks with both instructions for the teacher and many printable pages for your student to use with the blocks.

The bottom disc is a DVD which talks about the word version of the Can Do Cubes (which I ended up purchasing a set of; I can't wait to try those out with Jack and Hannah!) for the first 6 minutes, and then another 6 minutes featuring an instructor working with a child on the phonics cubes.  After that is a segment featuring the instructor saying each of the 42 sounds of the English language.  This would be helpful for an older student (remedial or ESL) to view to help them learn the sounds and the letters at the same time.  Then there's an explanation of the idea of synthetic phonics and where that name comes from and how to use the cubes to teach.  I found the video clips to be brief, informative, and helpful.


Katie likes doing the printable worksheets with the blocks.


I like being able to print off just the pages that we need from the CD.


One of the nice things about Can Do Cubes is that it can be used on it's own, or as a compliment to any other phonics or spelling program.  Kids like to play with these cubes.  They add a hands on component that holds a child's interest.  When I leave them out in the school room, I find words and sentences that my kids of all ages create.  Imagine the difference between telling your student, "Write this list of spelling words," and "Build each of your spelling words with these cubes."  Which one do you think they'll be more excited about?  I'm thrilled to add this resource to our classroom, and I'm sure I'll be pulling it out regularly for a long time to come.


You can connect with Can Do Cubes/Jolly Literacy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Forty Crew families received the phonics Can Do Cubes.  To read the rest of the reviews, please click the box below.

Can Do Cubes

Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Loyal Heart


I've mentioned before that I'm getting into genealogy.  When the Little Ones were visiting their mama, I had a chance to do some work on our family history, and I found a Civil War ancestor.  So when I picked up The Loyal Heart the next day and started reading, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in a Civil War era POW camp.  The pact that wartime friends make over their friend's grave turns out to have lasting importance for them.

The bulk of this story takes place in Texas.  Phillip (one of the pactees) has died.  Another of the pact members, Robert, goes to his home in Galveston to check on his widow and see if there is any way the remaining pact members can help her.  The widow, Miranda, was pretty much at the end of her rope when Robert shows up.  She is managing her late husband's estate by turning their home into a boarding house.  The people of the town have spread viscous rumors about her.  Someone is sending her threatening letters.

The Loyal Heart is by turns suspenseful and romantic.  Robert and the other members of the wartime pact are able to help Miranda redeem her reputation and Phillip's honor, as well as keep her home and find happiness.  This was a good book, and I will be passing it on to my 16 year old daughter to read, as well.   We have enjoyed many of Shelley Shepard Gray's works of fiction.




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