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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spanish for You!- Fiestas Review

Today, I'm excited to introduce you to a new (or at least new to me) Spanish curriculum: Spanish for You!

Spanish for You! was written by Debbie Annett, who has a Bachelor's degree in Spanish, and taught Spanish for 14 years in the school system.  She's now a homeschooling mom, teaching Spanish both in a co-op setting and while tutoring students.  She has fully used her Spanish for You curriculum for 4 years while teaching her co-op, so while it is designed for home use, you can purchase her teacher's plans for a co-op setting if you want to use it in a co-op.

So what makes Spanish for You! unique?  Debbie's heart for the homeschooling family, for one.  She was determined to create ONE curriculum that a) could be used across multiple grades, b) wouldn't break the bank, c) included a recorded audio component, and d) allowed it to easily flow into any high school Spanish curriculum.  The books are also centered around themes such as Fiestas (Celebrations) and Estaciones (Holidays), with Viajas (Travels) coming soon.  The books each have 5 lessons, taking roughly 4-6 weeks each to complete.  Each book then takes between 24-30 weeks to complete total, depending on the grade level.

The lessons center on a theme.  We reviewed Fiestas, and the first lesson was on "The Birthday Party".   Each lesson begins by teaching vocabulary and "mandatos", or commands.  In our case, for that first lesson, the vocab words were things like song, music, drinks, friends, etc. and the mandatos were sing, talk, open, and eat.  Then a few verbs and their conjugations are taught.  Again, the first lesson verbs for Fiestas were to sing, to talk, to eat, and to open.   After the verbs are taught, the next part of the lesson focuses on usage of the verbs with the vocabulary.  Finally, each lesson has a grammar component.  In our case, that lesson taught the pronouns this/these and that/those as well as the question "which one?"  At the end of the lesson, there is a "Let's put it all together" section with a few simple questions to test the students on what they have covered in that lesson.

The Pros:  While we're not supposed to compare, I have to say that this is the first Spanish curriculum that I've ever used that I get.  I mean, I really have found myself learning Spanish in spite of being an "old dog" when it comes to new tricks.  I like that the work week is broken into 4 days, and that the lessons are not too long.  I love that each book has audio files of Debbie Annett reading each page of the lesson in Spanish, and that there is also a file with a native speaker saying each Spanish word.  The illustrations that go with each vocab word were done by the author's daughter, with I think is sweet, and also helps to keep the cost down.  Plenty of games are incorporated into the schedule so that students can work with the vocab and verbs in a fun manner, but there are also worksheets that accompany some days' scheduled work.  And the price is great.  You can buy a year's worth of curriculum for $39.95 if you only want the curriculum for one specific grade range (3-4, 5-6, or 7-8) or for $64.95, you get the all the plans and worksheets for all three grade ranges.

The cons:  My cons are really organizational items, and several have been addressed already.  When we received our downloads, some files gave error messages, but Mrs. Annett was very quick to resolve that and actually resent the whole download.,  And the files within the download are not organized sequentially, meaning you have to hunt around for what you need.  But after only a few people mentioned that, Mrs. Annett has gone through and reorganized them, so I would assume they make more sense now, although I don't have the newest download.  My last organizational comment isn't so easily resolved since it deals with the printed book, but my students found it confusing that the first lesson is actually about 17 pages into the book.  Before that, there are resources like pronunciation guides, the Spanish alphabet, numbers and colors, etc.  I solved this problem by putting a binder clip on the first 16  pages, but then discovered we actually needed some of them as we got into the curriculum, so I just marked the start page with a paperclip.  It made it easier for them to find where the actual lesson started.

The bottom line:  We are almost at the end of our school year, so we won't continue Spanish for You! right now, but I do plan to pick it up again in the fall.  And I think I'll join them doing it, as speaking Spanish in Florida is a good thing!

 Here's the link if you want to purchase, or just check out Spanish for You!  To read what others had to say, go to the Mosaic Reviews blog.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Cry From Egypt Giveaway

Last year, I had the chance to review a book called A Cry from Egypt written by  homeschool graduate Hope Auer. You can click the link to read my whole review of A Cry from Egypt, or if you wan the Cliff Notes version, here's the gist of what I thought:

A Cry from Egypt definitely is a worthy and vivid telling of the time of the Exodus.  The story is well told and had moments that brought me to tears.  It gave my children a wonderful view of what life was like just before and during the plagues.  It also made my children (and if I'm honest, me as well) think of the struggles the Hebrews faced and about the fact that some of them probably really wrestled with their faith.  We are totally wrapped up in the story of Jarah and her family, and will definitely eagerly await the next book.

Well now, you have the chance to win an autographed copy of  A Cry from Egypt by entering the giveaway below!  To learn more about the book, or its talented author, visit A Cry from Egypt's website.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Photo Ready Giveaway Starts Today!!!

I'm SOOOOO excited to be part of this giveaway. As a photographer, the Rebel was the camera I started with. Of course, it was the film version because that was a few years back ;-). And BOY has the Rebel come a long way since then. This is one amazing prize pack, and I wish you the best of luck!

Welcome to the Photo Ready Giveaway Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media

Please take a moment to say hello to our sponsor: Giveaway Booster

Have a giveaway? Great! Now, how do you get the word out about your giveaway? Of course you want to reach more than just your audience right?!
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Now let's talk about the fabulous prize package which includes:

Canon EOS REBEL T4i 18.0 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 3-inch Touchscreen and Full HD Movie Mode (Body) - Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Zoom Lens - Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens - Telephoto & Wide Angle Lens Set - 3 pc Filter Kit: UV/ Polarizing filter/Fluorescent correction & Case - 32 Gigabyte SDHC Secure Digital Memory Card - Secure Digital USB Card Reader - Universal Memory Card Wallet - Pack of LCD Screen Protectors - Additional LP-E8 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Replacement Battery Pack - Well Protective SLR Camera Gadget Bag w/Pockets & Strap - Full Size 59" Tripod W/Case - Focus DVD Guide to Digital SLR Cameras - Focus Digital Grey Card Set for color correction - Focus 5pc Deluxe Lens Care & Cleaning Kit - HDMI cable

One lucky winner will receive the Canon EOS REBEL T4i Prize Package {detailed above}!

Giveaway ends May 14th at 11:59pm, open worldwide residents, ages 18+. Residents outside of the US will receive a $750 Amazon GC instead. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below.
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Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. One Blessed Mamma is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!
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Monday, April 15, 2013

This is Our Time- DVD Movie Review and Giveaway

This is Our Time is a new Christian movie due to be released on April 16th.  My family and I had the privilege to preview it recently before its release.  Here's the description from the back of the box:

Ethan, Luke, Ale, Ryder, and Catherine are five friends connected by their strong faith.  After graduation, they each set out to make a difference in the world for God.  Their ambitions are high, their passions are strong, but will they have the courage to fulfill their calling regardless of what comes their way.  The sacrifice they are asked to make may just be too high.  Through Godly wisdom from an outside source, the group realizes that this is not their time after all, it's all His!

OBM says:  This movie has such a strong message.  Five graduates each hoping to change the world, with two going off as missionaries, and the other three realizing that changing the world might not be as easy as they thought.  But then tragedy strikes their close knit group, and they wrestle with what it means to live a life that truly honors and serves God.  The movie plays on the idea that a calling from God isn't about what He wants you to do, but who He wants you to BE.  I loved that the two who go away to serve do so with a real  organization, Embrace a Village, and the DVD also contains a short informational clip about Embrace a Village and how you can help.  In terms of family friendliness, there was nothing objectionable that I saw or heard, and the Dove organization gives it 5 out of 5 Doves.  You can learn more about This is Our Time on or on Facebook.  The movie will be available at Christian retailers nationwide, or you can order it at the link for $14.92.  Or, even better, you have the chance to win your own copy by entering below!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".
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D is for Disney

I mean, come on, if you know me at all, this was a no-brainer!  My first memory of Disney in general was watching The Wonderful World of Disney.  Then, when I was about 9, we drove across the country from New York (yes, my parents were crazy) and went to visit friends and family in CA...and Disneyland.  I'm fairly certain we did that another time as well.  When I was in 6th grade, one of my best friends at the time invited me to go with them to Disney World.  Epcot had just opened, to put things in time perspective, but my biggest memory is the lobby of the Polynesian.  I was BLOWN AWAY.  My family had never stayed at anything nicer than a Ho-Jos or a Days Inn, and here was a hotel with a waterfall and live birds in the lobby!

Maybe Disney is in my blood, because my mother and step father actually honeymooned at Disney...and then promptly moved to central FL 2 years later.  So it only made sense that when I moved to FL to join them (for college), I would seek out a job there.  Just a summer job, mind you.  Just until classes started in the fall...except that that job lasted 10 years.  I was hooked.  I went from attractions, to marketing, to guest relations, to Disney University/Institute.  I also worked on the 25th Anniversary press event.  I was responsible for bringing 1000 boys and girls from Boys and Girls clubs around the country to Disney for the trip of a lifetime.  It was an honor to be part of that.

I love passing on the Disney legacy to my kids.  I'm so thankful to my brother, whose generous birthday/Christmas gifts for my children have meant that we have been able to have passes for a few years.  My kids know Disney like the back of their hand, and they love it too.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Photo Ready Giveaway- Bloggers Needed!

Photo Ready Giveaway Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media
Prize: Canon EOS REBEL T4i 18.0 MP CMOS Digital Camera Prize Package {RV$950+}
Event dates: 4/23 - 5/14

As a photographer, I'm so excited about this giveaway!  Are you a blogger?  Then head on over to Iowa Mom's blog and sign up to join in on this giveaway!  Be sure to tell her that Amy A at One Blessed Mamma sent you.  

Not a blogger?  Come back here to enter the giveaway starting April 23rd.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Katie's Journey to Love Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.


In book two of Amish fiction author Jerry S. Eicher’s new series, Katie Raber’s journey of discovery continues after her mamm’s marriage to Jesse Mast. Drawn back from the Mennonite world briefly by the miracle of Mamm’s changed heart, Katie finds she can’t totally abandon her new Mennonite friends.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736952535
ISBN-13: 978-0736952538


Katie Raber awoke well before dawn in the stillness of the old Amish farmhouse. Something seemed wrong…unfamiliar. Where was she? The question raced through her mind. The familiar shape of her upstairs bedroom was gone. Where the dresser should have been there was a window, and where the dark outline of the dresser was there used to be a closet door. She sat up in bed, listening as a door banged downstairs. The sound was soon followed by the muffled voices of people stirring below. There was also a soft clatter of dishes being moved and Mamm’s voice being overlaid with the deeper tones of a man.

Katie lay back in bed and smiled. Of course! Mamm had married Jesse Mast last week. The wedding had been held at Bishop Jonas Miller’s place, with all the relatives and friends gathered for the great day. In the evening, the community youth had sung old hymns until after nine o’clock.

Today was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the whole family was together for the first time since the wedding. They had given Mamm and Jesse some time alone, including Thanksgiving Day. The newlyweds hadn’t gone off on some honeymoon like an En--glisha couple would, so they were entitled to extra consideration—what with children from both sides of the families joining the new union and with a farm to take care of. Katie had also taken the week off from work at Byler’s Store and had spent Thanksgiving Day with her Mennonite friend Margaret.

Mabel, Jesse’s oldest daughter, had thrown a royal fit about being bossed around by Mamm last night when they’d all arrived after supper. And all Mamm had said was “It’s time for bed, children.” But thankfully Mabel had eventually calmed down. She’d been a wild card ever since Mamm had accepted Jesse’s offer of marriage. At first Mabel had refused to even consider Mamm as her new mamm. It wasn’t until Mamm was well into her engagement with Jesse before the feelings between Mamm and Mabel thawed out even a little. And even then Mabel gave in only after her daett brought great pressure to bear on her.

Katie took several deep breaths. The feelings of hope and joy that had been rushing over her at the memory of Mamm and Jesse saying their vows were fast disappearing. She really had to stop letting thoughts of Mabel’s bad attitude affect her this way. After all, this should be a wunderbah new beginning for all of them. For one thing, she would no longer be known as odd widow Emma Raber’s daughter, the strange girl with a yet stranger mamm. The wedding would surely change all of that.

Certainly Jesse and Mamm were persuaded things would turn out well for all of them. The past was behind them. Even Mamm’s past that had caused her to be thought strange by the Amish community—all because of that crush she’d once had on Daniel Kauffman, the most popular boy around when she’d been a teenager. Mamm had held on to her foolish hope that Daniel would return her affections right up to the moment he said his vows with Miriam Esh. Mamm had dashed out of the services and drove her buggy right past the couple and the astonished eyes of the bishop himself. She’d never lived down that action or gotten over the bitterness of the memory of Daniel.

Mamm had frozen her heart. In fact, she’d married Ezra without expecting she would ever again feel love for a man. When her heart had opened to Ezra after their daughter’s birth, it was made all the worse when he’d died suddenly. His early death had driven Mamm back into her shell. That Jesse Mast had been able to break through was a miracle indeed.

Now the joy was coming back. Katie belonged in this family—Jesse’s five children and her. Yah, it was still a little unfamiliar, just like the room she hadn’t recognized this morning. But she was here, and she was part of this family now. True, it didn’t seem quite right that she should have this room that had been Mabel’s. But Jesse had insisted. Katie was the eldest, so she deserved her own room. Katie dared not look at Mabel when he’d made that announcement.

At the wedding, everything had seemed to fall into place. There had been great love flowing from everybody. Mamm’s brothers from Lancaster had all taken time to speak with their niece, and they wished her well in her new life. “You’re a Mast now,” they’d teased, even though she really wasn’t. She was still a Raber. Mamm marrying Jesse wouldn’t change that. Only her own marriage would change her name.

That thought turned her mind to the dashing Ben Stoll, the boy she had her heart set on. He hadn’t paid her any attention at the wedding. He’d taken Tina Hochstetler to the table at the evening hymn singing. Katie had been left with no choice but to sit with her young cousin James, who lived in Lancaster. At sixteen, he was too scared to take a strange girl to the table. She mustn’t think about Ben now, Katie told herself. There were other boys in the world besides him, even though her heart would never be quite convinced of that. Maybe she could get over her crush on him if she tried hard enough. Mamm had found love beyond Daniel Kauffman, had she not?

Right now what she could be thankful for was that all of Jesse’s children—except Mabel—had accepted Mamm and her with open arms. The change had been slow at times. Mabel hadn’t been the only one of Jesse’s children unwilling at first to accept the idea of a new mamm keeping house for them. But they had eventually come around. And Mabel had also—sort of—after she’d been told by her daett to straighten out her attitude and accept Emma as her mamm.

Well, even if Mabel made trouble for her, Katie was still much better off than she had been before. She now knew what it felt like to be included in the Amish community and spoken to as if she were a normal human being. Of course, it hadn’t been just the wedding that had accomplished that. It had really started when she accepted an invitation to a Mennonite youth gathering. There she’d become friends with girls like Margaret Kargel and Sharon Watson. Both girls had come to Mamm’s wedding at her special invitation. They were the only Mennonites there besides Esther Kuntz, who worked at Byler’s Store with Katie.

Neither Jesse nor Mamm had any Mennonites in their immediate family. All the brothers and sisters on both sides of their families were Amish. That had made Katie’s relationship with the Mennonite girls a troublesome matter for Mamm. Jesse too seemed a bit concerned about it, though not as great as Mamm.

She would continue to leave that matter in Da Hah’s hands, Katie decided. Much gut had come out of her friendships with Margaret and Sharon. And Da Hah had blessed them in spite of Mamm’s fears. How that all made sense, Katie still didn’t know. And she might never know. It was enough that both Mamm and she were finding their way out of a life lived alone with closed-off hearts.

Back in the “old” days, Mamm had forbidden Katie from participating in the usual rumspringa the rest of the Amish young people in the community took part in. But to Mamm, rumspringa was a mild offense compared to attending Mennonite youth gatherings. But Katie had continued to go to them. She sighed and threw off the bedcovers. She knew Jesse and Mamm wanted her to stop attending, but she would have to see. Da Hah had been with her so far, and she would keep believing He would be in the future. It was true that living with Jesse and his family was going to be a great joy in its own right. Jesse had told her before Mamm’s wedding, “I love you, Katie. Just as much as I love Mabel and Carolyn or any of my boys. You’ll be living at my house as my own daughter.”

She was so thankful for that, and she appreciated the man from the bottom of her heart. That wasn’t something a person just walked away from. She now had the chance to grow up for a few years with a daett who cared about her. There might now be less reason for her to attend the Mennonite youth gatherings, though she would always keep up her friendships with Margaret and Sharon.

Katie walked over to the unfamiliar dresser. She opened the top drawer and ran her hands around the front edge. She found the matches and lit the kerosene lamp. The flickering flame had just caught when Jesse hollered up the stairs, “Time to get up, boys!”

Katie smiled at the sound. Mamm sometimes yelled up the stairs at home, but she’d never heard a man yell the morning wake-up call. It sounded gut. She pulled on her work dress as footsteps rushed past her bedroom door. She finished putting in the last pin and took the lamp with her as she stepped into the hallway. The light played on the walls as she found her way downstairs. No one was in the living room, so Katie peeked into the kitchen. Mamm had her back turned toward her as she worked over the stove.

“You should have called for me,” Katie told her.

Mamm turned around with a smile on her face. “Gut morning, Katie.”

“Gut morning to you.” Katie set the lamp on the kitchen table. “May I help with breakfast?”

A look of uncertainty replaced Mamm’s smile. “Perhaps we’d better wait until Mabel comes down before we get too far along. I don’t want to take over her kitchen on the first morning she’s here. Not without talking with her about it first.”

Katie sat on a kitchen chair. This was an unexpected turn of events, although she really shouldn’t be surprised now that she thought about it. Mamm had always been in charge at home, but now she was in another person’s kitchen—Mabel’s kitchen. “But you’re Jesse’s wife,” Katie protested. Everything has changed, she wanted to add, but she didn’t. Mamm looked troubled enough without adding undue pressure, and obviously everything hadn’t changed yet. There still would be bumps in the road. She could handle it.

Mamm was trying to smile. “Yah, I know. It takes some getting used to.”

“You should call Mabel,” Katie said. “She shouldn’t sleep in on the first morning we’re all together.”

Mamm lifted her head from the stove, seeming to ponder the suggestion for a moment. Then she went to the bottom of the stairs.

Yell loudly! Katie wanted to say. Wake the girl up!

“Mabel!” Mamm called up the stairs, her voice gentle.

Long moments passed, and Mamm looked ready to call again when the sound of a door opening came from upstairs.

“What do you want?” Mabel’s voice sounded irritated.

“I need your help in the kitchen,” Mamm said.

The door closed upstairs without an answer.

Katie watched Mamm’s face as she turned back and went to the stove.

Mamm glanced at Katie. “Perhaps you shouldn’t be in here when Mabel comes down.”

Katie looked away. Had she heard correctly? Mamm didn’t want her in the kitchen? Mamm must have seen the look on Katie’s face because she came over and gave Katie a quick hug. “It’s not what you think, Katie. I’m not rejecting you. It’s just that we must think about the larger picture right now. Mabel is used to running the household, and we need to give her an opportunity to adjust. It might be difficult enough for her with just me in here. And she might think ill of us if she finds you here too, both of us working in her kitchen. Especially because we didn’t take the time to call her before we started breakfast.”

Katie kept her eyes on the floor. What in the world was she supposed to do now? The pain was throbbing something awful in her heart. She’d never been told to leave the kitchen at home.

“Come on, Katie,” Mamm whispered. “We need to think about how Mabel will see things. If we’re both here, it will look like we’ve taken over.”

“Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do?” Katie got to her feet.

Mamm looked around but didn’t offer a suggestion.

“I’ll slip outside for a bit,” Katie finally said, opening the washroom door. Already she could hear Mabel’s quick footsteps coming down the stairs. Katie walked past the faint outline of the washbasin and towel in the darkness, and then she stepped outside. She stood on the porch with her arms folded and looked up at the splash of stars still visible in the heavens. Toward the east, dawn was breaking, the light still hidden in part by the corner of the house. In the other direction, the barn windows were lit with the glow of gas lanterns as Jesse and his boys worked on their chores. Katie looked at the soft light spreading across the dark lawn for a long time as tears stung her eyes.

Not that long ago she would have been out in the barn with Mamm doing the few chores they had at their place. Their two cows, Molly and Bossy, had been brought over and would be milked along with Jesse’s herd. She wouldn’t be going to the barn again for chores anytime soon. Jesse and his boys would take care of the farm jobs. So much had changed, Katie thought. And so quickly. She hugged herself tightly as she heard faint sounds of laughter coming from inside the house. That was Mamm’s voice laughing with Mabel. They were hitting it off big, apparently. Katie felt shut out. How could this be happening with all the hope that had filled her heart only moments ago? Surely Mamm hadn’t planned on sending her out of the kitchen on the first day they were all here after the wedding. Katie told herself she needed to think the best possible thoughts right now or she was going to burst into tears and totally embarrass herself when she did go back inside.

Was all this part of Da Hah’s way? No doubt He was continuing to lead her on paths she was unfamiliar with. Instead of being bitter, she should be thankful that Mamm was adjusting so well in her new role as Jesse’s wife and as mamm to his five children—especially Mabel. Wasn’t Mabel the hard case? Any progress in that area was all the more reason to give thanks. In the end, Katie decided, she would fit in somewhere. Mamm wouldn’t forget her own daughter.

One thing was for sure. Mamm and she would never slip back into what they used to be. That was in the past—and would remain so. No more feelings of being passed over by everyone or going unnoticed in Amish youth gatherings. Some of that would still happen, but she now had her wonderful memories of the evenings spent with the Mennonite youth to counter the aloneness. Margaret and Sharon had accepted her so quickly, and she’d met many others who were friendly too. Even the Mennonite boys who played beside her at the volleyball games—young men she’d never met before—had taken the time to say a few words of greeting and inquire how she was doing. They were all nice people who had welcomed her into their homes and hearts.

She had them to go back to in addition to whatever new blessings Da Hah had waiting for her with her new, expanded family. Mabel was the thorn with the rose, but Katie didn’t wish to destroy the flower because of the pain that stung her hand. Nee, she would not. She took deep breaths of the cool morning air and gathered her courage to return inside.

OBM says: I definitely enjoy Jerry Eicher's view into the Amish world. He has a different slant than most Amish fiction writers. This was book two of a series, but could easily have been read as a stand alone. Katie, an Amish young woman, continues to find acceptance with her Mennonite friends, and even finds herself in a relationship with the Amish boy of her dreams because of their mutual connection with the Mennonite youth. And while she's not looking to leave her faith, Katie does embark on a trip to Europe with her Mennonite friends to visit the homeland of both of their faiths. While she is there, she learns devastating news from home that could change the future she was beginning to hope for. I'd recommend Katie's Journey to Love, or any of Mr. Eicher's other books, if you enjoy Amish fiction.
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Civil War

This is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  Well, not today, or specifically even this year...the war did take place over a few years after all.  But it has been 150 years-ish since the battles took place.  Being a huge history buff, 2 years ago we visited Gettysburg on our way up to New York.  It's such a powerful place to just drive around that terrain and realize what the battles there actually involved.  I'm not sure if that's what ignited my daughter Mimi's love of Civil War Reenactment or if it was the fact that one of her closest friends is into it as well, but she loves it.

In January, she attended a reenactment about an hour and a half away, and in February, we all went to the education day for one that is much more local.  I LOVE how the reenactors are so passionate about sharing the history with children.  Each one took lots of time to explain and answer questions.  I really, truly believe children learn best by experiencing things firsthand, and attending education days like these affords that opportunity.  They learned about the tents the soldiers stayed in, what they ate, what they did for "fun", what women's roles were, what types of weapons they used, how they cooked their food, and even the coinage used during the war.

The best part of being a reenactor, especially a teenaged reenactor, is the ball.  On Saturday night, I chaperoned my daughter and her friend at the ball.  It was outdoors, and was quite cold-in the low 40s, but they had a blast, and I have to say, I really enjoyed watching, even if I couldn't feel my toes when we got home.

They danced the Virginia Reel

And a few dances in the round

One of the great things about these balls...

Is that ALL the men are expected to dance...

with ALL the girls, no matter what age...

ensuring everyone gets danced with...

It's actually the men's duty to make sure...

EVERY girl has a good time.

But Mimi and this young man did dance more than a few dances together.

This kind gentleman even asked ME to dance, though I was in  "normal" clothes.  I politely (although it was actually considered rude in the Civil War time to turn down a request) turned him down as my own husband wasn't there and I felt weird about it, no matter how customary it is.  I'm thinking we should make this a family affair though.

Love this picture with a little vignette and tinting!
I had relatives who fought in the Civil War, and as a mother, I can only imagine how horrible it was to have your child go off to fight.  But I love seeing today's youth involved in actively keeping this history alive.

To see what other people blogged about for the letter C, visit Ben and Me.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We Choose Virtues Review--Revisited

About a year ago, I had the chance to take a look at We Choose Virtues for the first time. By clicking here, you can read my original review of We Choose Virtues.  Recently, I was asked to take a look at them again, and the timing couldn't have been better.

We Choose Virtues is a company whose products are designed to help you teach your elementary aged children about different virtues: 12 of them in fact.  For each of those 12 virtues (attentive, content, diligent, perseverant, self-controlled, patient, forgiving, gentle, helpful, honest, obedient, and kind), there is a "catchphrase".  This is a positive action that applies to the virtue, such as "I have my 'wanter' under control" for the virtue "content".  Each virtue has a "person" too, so that they have someone to visualize who represents that virtue, like Cake Jake for content.  There is also a sentence that defines the virtue in the negative such as "I am NOT...bored, greedy, or always wanting more, and I don't beg or whine."  And if you choose the Christian variation, there is a Bible verse for each virtue.

Flash Cards- $14.99

We received the Virtue Flash Cards, a sample Parenting Card, and the downloadable Teacher's Handbook, Coloring Book, and the Official Butterfly Award.  I knew from past experience that my biggest challenge was making sure I implemented the virtues methodically, so I planned out our next few weeks by choosing one virtue to focus on for that week.  Although 2 of my 4 kids are really older than the targeted age, I had them all use the program.  The virtue's catchphrase became their handwriting practice for the week.  The older kids also wrote the "I am not..." statement.  And for the 3 oldest, I used the virtues and their catchphrases for their spelling and vocab for the first week we did used the program.  Since we were having some issues with kindness in our house, we started with I am kind.  What's funny though is that even though we haven't done obedience, just revisiting WCV has made my youngest really key in to the obedience catchphrase again.  When I ask her to do something, she responds with, "Okay, what ever you say, I'll obey, right away." even though it's been a year since we reviewed WCV last.

Coloring Book- Downloadable for $3

The pros:  Obviously, the catchphrases have "staying power" since my daughter has held on to some of them over time even when I have been lax in reminding them.  I love that the products are simple to use too.  And the artwork is darling.  My youngest was especially fond of the coloring book, and I let her color each character as we covered their virtue.

The cons:  None really, but if you are tempted to take the cheap way out and just get the cards, I'd say it's definitely helpful to have the Teacher's Handbook ($5 for a downloadable PDF) to have ideas for implementing the virtues and being diligent in practicing them.

Homeschool Kit $98.99

The bottom line:  We choose virtues in our house, as I think everyone should.  But all you have to do is make a quick trip to the store to see that's not the case universally.  I love the tools We Choose Virtues offers to help train up children in the way they should go.  And I really like having simple phrases I can use to remind them when they need to correct their behavior.  If this sounds good to you, I have great news.  Through the end of April, WCV is offering 20% off their homeschool kit with the code HOME20.  Or you can use the code VIRTUE15 to save 15%  on your order anytime, with no expiration.  You can not combine the discounts, so you can practice being content with just using one or the other :-).

For more helpful hints on teaching children virtues, be sure to visit the WCV blog or their Facebook page.  To see what other members of the Mosaic Review Crew had to say, visit the Mosaic Reviews Blog.

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