This Month's Featured Resources...

Revolutionary WarScrap Crafting Lego History Latin Calendar

Wednesday, June 29

Bridge to Better Days (Joe Bonamassa)

Here's a round of the newest books on the market that will help you create better days ahead....they range from fiction stories (that will make you think) to non-fiction books to even children's books!  As always, we will begin with the kids...

Children's Books
Berenstain Bears School Time Blessings (Mike Berenstain)
After the long and lazy summer, it’s time for school. Brother and Sister are ready to see their friends and get busy with all of the things they enjoy about school—but are nervous about the more challenging subjects like math and history. And Honey Bear will be going to nursery school for the first time—but how will she handle not being home with Mama and Papa all day?  In this new Berenstain Bear Living Lights book, Mama and Papa Bear remind their cubs that prayer and God’s love are always there to guide them and that they will support them no matter what the challenge.

If you have a preschool child, or even a child returning to early elementary grades, this is a good book to help them transition. It covers separation anxiety, different classes (and why some are fun and some are not), and general ‘back to school’ principles and rules.  It talks about being dropped off and picked up, getting along with other kids, dealing with older kids, asking for help from the teacher, and some of the other basics that most adults never think about anymore. Another good book from this series that helps children to understand the world around them through stories.

Berenstain Bears Caring & Sharing Treasury (Mike Berenstain)
Time after time the Living Lights,
Berenstain Bears series has attracted young readers through creative and engaging stories that not only entertain but teach values and life lessons. Now, five of the series’ most loved books are available in a comprehensive bind-up. This Living Lights collection Back to School is sure to be a popular choice for Berenstain Bears readers who have enjoyed the series in the past.  This collection includes:  Jobs Around Town, Get Involved, Love Their Neighbors, The Biggest Brag, and Gossip Gang.

This collection of stories covers many aspects of the world around young children.  I love that it focuses on relationships and communication issues.  This seems to be an area that it lacking in modern society.  While the newer BB books are not my favorites (prefer the older ones), this is still another good book from this series that helps children to understand the world around them through stories.

The Weekenders (Mary Kay Andrews)
Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found. So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything. 

In true MKA fashion, this book made you feel all of the emotions....and I really liked that it harkened back to some of her earlier books, like Hissy Fit or Savannah Blues - with less flighty characters. A little mystery, a little romance, a little family drama, and a lot of southern! And no - you'll never see the end coming! I may not recommend this for my students, but I will certainly recommend it for my girlfriends...and my momma. She loves MKA as much as I do!

You & Me, Always (Jill Mansell)
On the morning of her twenty-fifth birthday, Lily Harper opens the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight. Learning about the first and only real love of her mom's life is a revelation. The same momentous day, Lily meets Eddie Tessler, an actor fleeing fame who could change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions. As secrets past and present begin to emerge, Lily's not sure what-or who-to believe. But one thing is clear: in the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again...

This was such a lovely book! It took about 2/3 of the book before I was sure of how it would end, which was nice...typically you can tell within a couple of chapters. The characters were believable and the story line was realistic. I loved the journey and how it all played out. Will definitely be looking for more from JM!

A Haven on Orchard Lane (Lawana Blackwell)
In difficult circumstances, Charlotte Ward, once a famed stage actress, tries to restart her career--only to experience disaster. Against her better judgment, her estranged daughter, Rosalind, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quiet English coastal village. Charlotte is grateful to get to know Rosalind after years apart. As one who has regrets about her own romantic past, it's a joy for Charlotte to see love blossom for her daughter. For Rosalind, however, it's time away from teaching--and now she must care for the mother who wasn't there for her. And what could be more complicated than romance? Together, mother and daughter discover that healing is best accomplished when they focus less on themselves and more on the needs of others.

This was my first Lawana Blackwell book, and I was pleased enough to go to the library and start investigating some of her older works. A mother gives up her baby so that the child can have a better life, but the daughter ends up feeling hurt and lost. When mother and daughter finally meet up, there is hurt and regret. Embedded within this story is the story of two little boys with a cruel stepmother (think : Cinderella) who use their brotherly love to overcome their circumstances. The pace of the story is a little bit slow, and it jumps around from character to character and storyline to storyline, but once you get into it, you won’t want to put it down. Everything eventually ties together, and you’ll want to know what comes next. Throughout the novel, you see the theme of love and forgiveness – and you’ll find yourself examining these themes in your own life as you see them acted out through the characters.

Broths and stocks have always had a central place in kitchens around the world owing to their ability to comfort, nourish, and heal. In Broth and Stock from the Nourished Kitchen, Jennifer McGruther, author of The Nourished Kitchen and an authority in the traditional foods movement, illustrates why a good broth or stock is the foundation of amazing and wholesome cooking. Included are over a dozen master recipes for base stocks and then 40 recipes using these stocks in complete meals. These accessible recipes are appropriate for vegetarians, pescatarians, and meat eaters alike and showcase the nutrient-dense, real food that nourishes the body and soul. The Whole Chicken Broth is the perfect base for Springtime Risotto with Asparagus, Green Garlic, and Chive Blossoms, while the recipe for Fish Stock will bring new life to a classic dish like New England Clam Chowder. People are catching on to this centuries old appreciation of bone and vegetable based broths, and Jennifer McGruther shows how these can be made quickly and cost-effectively at home.

We all know the amazing health benefits of chicken broth – but it can be daunting to try and make your own. This book provides simple recipes that are very easy to make at home. The author details and clearly describes the process, as well as how to obtain the ingredients, and the photographs are fantastically beautiful! There is background knowledge, a history lesson or two, and tips and tricks for in the kitchen. There are your basic broth recipes, as well as some new ones that I had never seen before, including international / indigenous ones. Even if you’re a seasoned cook, there will be something to learn in here!

7 Laws of Love (Dave Willis)
In our fast-paced, success-obsessed culture, we’re constantly tempted to chase after things that don’t matter. We’ve been conditioned to value possessions over people, status over relationships, and ourselves over God. But the reality is this: God created love to be the centerpiece of our lives. In The Seven Laws of Love, Dave Willis makes the case for a love revival and proves that in returning to a life of love we have no greater model than the one who is love himself. In Dave’s humorous, touching, down-to-earth style, The Seven Laws of Love takes you on a journey through the ins and outs of everyday relationships—with your spouse, your children, your friends, and your coworkers—using practical, applicable examples and guiding principles that demonstrate what a life of love actually looks like. There is no higher calling on earth than to love and be loved. It’s time to learn The Seven Laws of Love, and to make loving a priority over all other pursuits. Anything else isn’t really living.
  • Love requires commitment.
  • Love selflessly sacrifices.
  • Love speaks truth.
  • Love conquers fear.
  • Love offers grace.
  • Love brings healing.
  • Love lives forever.
The laws don’t just apply to marriage, though – they are demonstrated in examples of your spouse, family, neighbors, friends, yourself, your creator, and even your enemies. The stories are easily related and down to earth, and each chapter ends with a quick summary. At times, the book feels preachy, but the author is a preacher, so… Overall, it is an easy read, and always a good reminder to help keep your heart and actions on the right path. I know that a ‘refresher course’ always helps me, especially when life has begun to frustrate enormously. At the end of the book, there is a summary chapter, which is a good, short piece to go back and occasionally read again.

I received many, but not all, of these books in exchange for an honest review.  I enjoy bringing you the best new reads I discover, and hope that you will find something you love, too!

Friday, June 24

Last Resort (Eagles)

(scroll to bottom for unit study)  

They came from Providence....the one in Rhode Island....  ~"The Last Resort" (Eagles)

On a Road Trip Adventure across the USA, the Smith family left Concord, New Hampshire and headed to Rhode Island.  

Mom Smith writes :
But before we got to our next campground, we made a stop in the capital of the Ocean State.  We stopped in Providence because our family wanted to see the Roger Williams National Memorial and tour the Rhode Island State House.

roger williams national memorial, RIThis memorial has a small Visitor Center, but don't let its size disappoint you!  We stepped inside and found a ranger to talk to, a film to watch, exhibits to read, artifacts to see, and lots to learn about the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams. 

Roger Williams National MemorialWe discovered that Roger Williams is not only responsible for the founding of the Colony of Providence Plantations, but he is also the author of Key into the Language of America. This book is the first book ever written about Native American languages. After exploring the grounds of this memorial and having a picnic, we took a short walk to the Rhode Island State House. 
  RI state house

DSCN7330Since we were just passing through Providence, we didn't have time for a guided tour, but with a pamphlet offered to us when we signed in, we had the chance to take a self-guided tour.  We learned that the Rhode Island State House:
  • was completed in 1904 (construction began in 1895)
  • architectural style is classified as Neo-classical and is constructed of white Georgian marble
  • dome is the 4th largest self-supporting dome in the world
 rhode island state houseDSCN7331
Here's our favorite things we saw on our self-guided tour....
Buddy's favorite thing was the Gettysburg Gun and Civil War Flags, whereas Belle liked seeing the original charter for this colony granted by King Charles II in 1663.  Mr. Gary liked seeing the famous portrait of George Washington (which we saw in the State Reception Room). This full portrait of Washington was painted by Gilbert Stuart (who we later discovered is a native of Rhode Island).
gettysburg gunRI charter
My favorite thing to see in the Rhode Island State House was the State Library.  I could have spent hours in here, but we were just passing through Providence and we'd already stayed longer than we had planned...on a Road Trip Adventure across the USA, it was time to hit the road again!
inside RI state houseinside RI state house

DSCN7315Come with us and see where we parked our home on wheels and read what we did in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Unit Study

Robin is a wife, homeschool mom, and blogger. She has been homeschooling for 14 years and has
recently started a blog,, to help other homeschool families. In 2011-2012, Robin and her family took a year-long RV Road Trip across the USA. She blogs about their travel adventure

Wednesday, June 22

Freezer Cooking : Summer Treats

Love to freezer cook?  Check out our new book : Freezer Cooking Through the Year!!

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Makes 8 ice cream sandwiches
Ingredients :
  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 quart ice cream of your choice

Directions :
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. (For easier cookie removal, line baking sheets with parchment paper.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, eggs, flour, vanilla, and bak­ing powder. Stir until well blended.
  3. Drop rounded spoons of the batter onto the lined cookie sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between them. You should have an even number of cookies…unless you want one to sample.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until set. Remove to racks to cool.
  5. Remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften slightly at room temperature.
  6. To prepare sandwiches :
    • Place one cookie, flat side up, on a small sheet of plastic wrap. Place a scoop of ice cream on the cookie. Place a second cookie, flat side down, on top of the ice cream. Press the cookies together until the ice cream flattens and spreads to the edges of the cookies. Individually wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place them all in the freezer bag to store in the freezer.

Freezer Jam
Summer is the best time for savoring foods, but if you have more berries than you can eat quickly, consider making some freezer jam.  It's super easy, very yummy, and makes a fantastic gift!  We typically triple or quadruple this recipe, if we are able to get bulk produce during peak season.

Ingredients for Blackberry Jam:
  • Ball Canning Guide (optional)
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1 package dry pectin
  • 2 c. crushed blackberries
  1. Mix crushed blackberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the blackberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.
  2. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

Friday, June 17

Rocky Mountain High (John Denver)

(scroll to bottom for unit study)  

Today, on Fan Field Trip Friday, we're following the footsteps of the Smith Family on their Road Trip Adventure Across the USA!  It's off to Colorado Springs, visit the Garden of the Gods!  And here is your accompanying unit study...  (photo credit : Garden of the Gods)
Rocks & Minerals Unit Study

Mom Smith writes :
One of the places that our family is glad we didn't miss on a Road Trip Adventure across the USA is Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Before we explored the park, we checked out the Visitor and Nature Center which was filled with educational exhibits. At this hands-on learning station, we reviewed what we knew about rocks and learned about the different rocks that we'd see at Garden of the Gods.  On the Upper Terrace of the Visitor Center, we enjoyed the views and took a closer look at the area.
rocks of the garden exhibitvisitor center at garden of the gods

At other displays and dioramas, we discovered that:
  • the Ute People, who are ancestors of the Red Rock People, used this area as their tribal meeting grounds
  • a variety of flora and fauna can be found on these native grasslands and woodlands of Colorado
  • Native Americans used every part of the yucca plant
    • the roots were used to make soap
    • the petals and pods were a food source
    • the leaves were used to make baskets
    • and the stalk fibers were used to make ropes
With the help of a guide and map, we identified the snow-covered peaks of Pikes Peak, Queens Canyon Quarry, and the Gateway Rocks to the Garden of the Gods.  After our visit to the Visitor Center and lessons on what we were going to see, we headed inside the park.  We explored Garden of the Gods from the car and on foot. We drove along Garden Drive and Juniper Way Loop.  We strolled the Perkins Garden Trail, and we hiked the Siamese Twins Trail.
garden of the godsgarden of the gods
Along the way, we tried to identify as many rock formations with the curious names as we could find.
Some of the most popular rock formations are easy to spot, like Balanced Rock and Tower of Babel
and Kissing Camels.
balanced Rocktower of babelkisssing camels
Geology lessons didn't end at the Visitor and Nature Center.  At wayside exhibits, we read and learned about water and wind erosion, and then looked up and saw the effects of each.
garden of the godsgarden of the gods
Botany lessons continued in the park, too.  We went on a scavenger hunt for the plants we had learned about in the center.  We saw lots of pinon tress and yucca plants.  In addition to rock formations and plants, our family had hoped to see a mule deer or a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep that we had read about at the center, but we didn't see either. We did see several magpies and a canyon wren.
pinon juniper DSCN1274
Colorado was a great place to learn about geology, history, and botany at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs!
garden of the godsgarden of the gods

Thursday, June 16

All For You (Sister Hazel)

It's that time of the year again.....our annual Summer Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza!!  Everyone gets a prize, just for dropping in, and we wish you luck!

Goody Bag Freebies - Santa thought that everyone who dropped in needed a goody bag to take we whipped one up!
  • Digital Unit Studies
  • Field Trip Planner
  • Letters to Heroes Writing Templates
  • Lego Christmas Fun Pack
  • 5 Beauty & Body Recipes e-book
  • ...Coupons & More!!

On to the presents!!!!!   What's wrapped up this year?
  1. We Were There book set from Dover Publications
  2. Amish Fiction Bundle - Three wonderful new releases from the world of Amish fiction!
  3. 2016-17 Digital Plannerfrom Funky Jeans
  4. Mom's Relaxation Kit - Essential oils, tasty teas, and a beautiful hand-carved box to store them in...a book and a chair are all you'll need!
  5. Anti-Aging Gift Set from Simple Life Mom
  6. Christmas Around the World Online Unit Study from Learning Loving Freely
  7. Family Book Bundle - Two new releases : The Adventure Bible and Seven Laws of Love
  8. Mystery Curriculum Box - If you've seen our mystery boxes in the past, you know that they never fail to disappoint!  Last year's was worth $200+ and contained goodies just for Mom.  This year, we are stuffing a media box full of printed unit studies and books for your elementary and middle school students!

We Were There books
One of our favorite products from Dover is the We Were There book series.  This is a vintage series that Dover has begun to re-release.  Each book tells a story from the vantage point of teenage children experiencing historical events.  They span the eras from Caesar's Legions to the Battle of Lexington and Concord to the Battle of the Bulge...and everything in between.  The children beg to read them (we read aloud together as a family) because they are so easy to get into.  Our versions are the original hardcovers, but you can get the following newly released versions from Dover :
Digital Planner
Downloadable 50 page Homeschool Lesson Planner and Resource Kit for Homeschool Families.  Covering July 2016 to June 2017, it includes :
  • - Front and Back Cover
  • - 17 tabbed pages for each section including each month of the year
  • - year at a glance
  • - 12 monthly calendar pages for each month of the year
  • - attendance tracker
  • - curriculum list
  • - daily docket
  • - weekly docket
  • - field trip tracker
  • - grade tracker
  • - 2 page lesson plan spread
  • - resources and helpful websites tracker
  • - username and password tracker
  • - notes page
Anti-Aging Gift Set
This handmade bundles includes an anti-aging eye cream and anti-aging serum, made with 10 essential oils tailored specifically to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on damaged or aging skin. These essential oils are known for increasing blood flow to an area, detoxing pores, and bringing a healthy glow to skin.

Online Unit Study
Celebrate Christmas around the world with this 10-day unit study. As you explore websites and watch engaging videos, your family will learn about other countries and their Christmas traditions. Each lesson includes a fun hands-on or internet-based activity. Your Christmas adventure ends with an ethnic Christmas Feast.

Wednesday, June 15

How It Feels to Fly (Alicia Keys)

In this house, we do airplanes in a BIG WAY!  So it seems fitting to share this extensive unit study for National Aviation Day with you, our friends.  Of course...every day is aviation day here...  *chuckle*  National Aviation Day is August 19th
My grandfather would have been 86 this week...on Father's Day.  We always held a big family cookout and then the 'boys' would go to the airport for the afternoon.  Being the oldest grandkid, I tagged along with them, because I really really loved flying!!

Not a day goes by that I don't remember my grandfather's voice.  He was the 'one,' the one special grandparent that you connect to more than any of the others.  I'm sure each of you has one, too.  If s/he is still alive, would you pick up the phone and have a conversation with them today?  For all of those who can no longer do so.

This post, and unit study, are dedicated to him.
Since the Flying Ace, our resident pilot-in-training, has been wanting to visit the airport again, we popped into the airport I grew up in, while we were in the area.  A few faces are missing, and it was raining, but ......everything changes, right?
The oldest was most interested in all of the vintage aviation gear out in the sitting room of the airport.  When I was growing up, none of this was was definitely a man cave back then!!
Here the boys are playing around in the plane a few years ago...and this trip.  They're just a tad bigger now!
This airport happens to house the local medical emergency helicopter for a larger hospital in the area.  We were able to see how helicopter controls are different from airplanes.
One of my uncles works on airplanes as a job, and builds them for fun.  I guess you could say this whole 'flight thing' is in the blood!  Here, he is showing the boys a plane he just helped finish.
The boys got to see how these light airplanes are built, from start to finish.  They also learned how to use navigational charts to create a flight plan.  They had the privilege of working with one of the best flight instructors in the area as part of our older son's Boy Scout Aviation Badge.
Ace had a chance to play around in the cockpit of a plane that was awaiting repairs.  Nothing like a real plane to fuel some imagination play!
We topped off our aviation tour this week with a stop at the Wright Brothers Museum in Kitty Hawk, NC.

Aviation Unit

Vocabulary Words

wind tunnel
air flow
air pressure
flight simulation
paper airplane
airplane surfaces
test pilot
military aircraft
aircraft design
Bernoulli's Principle
air resistance
Air Traffic Control
Peregrine Falcon
Venturi Effect
experimental aircraft
home built
cargo plane

More Aviation Units (full unit studies at each)