Thursday, January 31, 2019

Looking Forward to February



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During the month of February, A Mom's Quest to Teach will be sharing several reviews including a new review of SchoolhouseTeachers.com and reviews of more unique products to use in your homeschooling journey. We will also be sharing children's books and activities through Book Club, tips to study history, and writing prompts for the month of March. 



Blogging through the Alphabet 



Starting in February, I will also be joining up with several other bloggers on a new journey through the alphabet. Each week I will continue to share history-themed posts starting with Appomattox and continuing through with other posts about the American Civil War, China, World War II, and other topics. 

I hope you will join me this month to discover more about history, new products, and more! 



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Roses, Shadows, and Snow...Writing about the Happenings of February with Free Writing Prompts



The year seems like it just started and we are already getting ready to see if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow, buying flowers and candy for Valentine's Day, and maybe even preparing to celebrate Presidents' Day. Have you kept up with writing for yourself or your children?

I must admit preparing prompts for February was more difficult because the first things that automatically come to mind are ideas involving Valentine's Day. Is there more to February than the day when people exchange Valentine's Day? Of course! What topics would you spend the month writing about?

Photo Prompts 



Flowers


Sharing tea


trees


Writing Prompts 




Click here to download your free writing prompts! 


Interested in the others from the Free Writing Prompts collection? You can find January, December, November, and October on A Mom's Quest to Teach.



Did you or your children write any interesting stories using the prompts? I would love to hear about them. 

Images are made using Canva.com

Monday, January 28, 2019

Book Club: Book Review of The Curse of Misty Wayfair

Cover of The Curse of Misty Wayfair


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

The lives of two young women are connected across 100 years in The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright from Bethany House. Thea Reed and Heidi Lane are each searching out their own answers in the romantic suspense novel that I recently read to review. Through their seeking answers, they each discover that Misty Wayfair and her supposed curse upon the Coyle family is impacting their own lives. As a fan of mysteries, I really enjoyed The Curse of Misty Wayfair. I read it in about four days because I was so excited to see what happened next to Thea and Heidi.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair tells the tale of Heidi Lane (in the present day) – the daughter returning home to help her sister run a resort lodge and visit her mother who is in the grip of dementia – and that of Thea Reed – a traveling photographer who lives in 1908 and is seeking answers of her ancestry. Both ladies are living in Pleasant Valley which seems to be anything but pleasant.

quote from The Curse of Misty Wayfair

Great Characters 


Sometimes when an author splits a story between two main characters there are problems – underdeveloped characters and plotlines – but Jaime Jo Wright introduced a well-developed supporting cast and a strong story linking the two ladies over 100 years. I loved reading about noisy Mrs. Brummel, quiet Rose, the Amos couple, and the secretive Simeon – all of whom were part of Thea's story – as well as Heidi's sister and brother-in-law and the Crawford family who helped Heidi answer her own questions.

Potential Spoilers Ahead 


The Curse of Misty Wayfair opens with Thea taking a memento mori – a photograph of a deceased person – which takes us to Heidi purchasing an album in an antique shop with that very same photo of Mary Coyle taken by Thea. This was the beginning of a personal connection to Heidi Lane as I enjoy looking through old photographs in antique shops and have purchased some from the mid-1800s and early 1900s (although none were memento mori).

The physical resemblance of Heidi to Mary is what begins the connection across the years. Over the course of Wright's book, we learn of Heidi's anxiety (which created a second connection for me) and see how Rhett Crawford helps Heidi reign in her anxiety at various events – a car accident, a fire, etc.

As Thea finds out who she is and what became of her mother, I found myself wanting to know more of her life and that of Simeon Coyle. I was very sad when I read the last page of The Curse of Misty Wayfair as I wanted to follow both Thea and Simeon and Heidi and Rhett on their journeys as couples.


End of Potential Spoilers 



Both Thea and Heidi discovered with the aid of others that focusing upon God – the Creator – was what was really important on their journey to find themselves.

Quote from The Curse of Misty Wayfair


I recommend The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright to those who enjoy romantic suspense, Christian fiction, mysteries, or historical fiction. Wright did a wonderful job weaving together the mystery of a small logging town, a scandal, and the present day.

If you enjoyed this book review, please take a moment to read these others on 

A Mom's Quest to Teach






Sunday, January 27, 2019

Homeschooling Quest: Back to a Routine

Pens, paper and Homeschooling Quest

This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

For most of December 2018 and January 2019, illness has plagued our family – myself and our two younger children all had varying degrees of a cold we kept passing around. This is partly why A Mom's Quest to Teach has been quiet during this time. I also wanted to take time to spend with my family during the holiday season.

I shared a few posts which are book reviews – such as one about a new devotional for young women from Zondervan, a review of a devotional based on prayers written by Jane Austen, and a review of a book to help grandparents, among others. In addition to the book reviews, I shared photographs and ideas from our daughter's third birthday party.

Back to a Routine


Over the past two weeks we have been back into our regular homeschooling routine. While our teenage son has been completing assignments off and on through the time I was ill, our kindergartener and preschooler have just started working on schoolwork again with me. (Although our kindergartner did take the initiative to complete worksheets in a workbook from the dollar store for his own "independent study" when he was feeling well enough.)

Our children received a number of board games for Christmas – Koala Capers, Chutes and Ladders, Count Your Chickens, and Dragonwood among them – which we have been playing. Thus, they have been learning how to work together and take turns. These are important lessons to be learned at any age.


,

Coloring a picture from WriteBonnieRose


Classroom

New Products in our Homeschool


Both younger children have been working through the pages of the Preschool Skills Fun Book by Bonnie Rose Hudson from WriteBonnieRose. Our three-year-old daughter is quickly learning how to follow directions and our five-year-old son is having fun with the coloring sheets and painting projects using Dot Paints.

We have also begun using IXL.com to review for the Homeschool Review Crew. Our teenage son has used it before in public school but it is new and exciting for our two younger children. Just the other day our five-year-old son was practicing science in addition to kindergarten math and language arts skills.

And now that we have set up our schooling area again in the living room, we will be able to get back into our routine even more quickly. What do you do to get back into a routine after a long break?

Counting with IXL.com

Looking for more Homeschooling blogs? 


Perhaps you need a new workbook to add to your daily homeschooling routine – Reading Eggs has a collection that might be perfect for you. Or maybe you are searching for some history-themed posts? I have a 'Blogging through the Alphabet' series that might be of interest. For example, I wrote about Ramses the Great last year. And I have several Book Club posts including this one about the book Mousetronaut that are great for homeschooling activities.

Click on the images below for the posts!

link to Ramses the Great post

link to Reading Eggs and Math Seeds workbook review

link to Book Club: Mousetronaut

Friday, January 25, 2019

So Close, So Far Away



Please welcome my husband (my editor) in this guest post as he reflects upon Thanksgiving and my late Grandmom-in-law. This post was originally going to be published late last year but we wished to share his thoughts with the family prior to sharing it on my blog.

Thanksgiving. The day we gather as family and proclaim our thanks to God for what we have, what we have been spared, what we have learned, what we have experienced, and what we have been given. Perhaps some of us are hearty enough to be thankful for what is no more.
Thanksgiving conjures up memories of browns and oranges and yellows and reds. Smells of turkey, gravy, stuffing, casseroles, vegetables, breads, rolls, cakes, pies, cookies, egg nog, and firewood smoke come to mind. These sense memories pale, though, compared to the memories of being with my family, such as hearing Grandmom talking with someone, or the laughs of my aunts, or the banter of uncles and cousins around the fire outside the vacation home or in the living room in our hometown. The crack of the pool table in the den or NHL video games on a giant basement TV screen. The day could be represented by a family serving dinner spread out over a wide table in a dining room, a wife cooking for her small family in a small town, or an aunt and uncle with the rest of their families gathering around the light and warmth at whichever house is the host venue.
Grandmom left this Earth the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday. So named for other reasons, this year it carries a heavier, deeper meaning. Black Friday is so close to Thanksgiving, but so far away because the calendar only moves in one direction. Black Friday is the furthest day from the next Thanksgiving. So, too, Grandmom is now so far away from her family – or (more accurately) from her earthly family. Yet, in reverse, she is so close to the next generations like Black Friday is close to its prior day. Her pedigree is in our very souls. Her laughter, wisdom, and fondness for music in our minds. Her love flows in our hearts. Now, she is among “the cloud of witnesses” the writer of Hebrews tells about in his epistle:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Last week, Grandmom joined Grandpop – my forebear in both name and generation, her sisters, my late first wife, and countless others who named Yeshua Mashiach – Christ Jesus – as Lord and Savior. Because Grandmom believed in her Savior, surely she heard those words we long to hear after we shed our own mortal coils: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” For those who know Jesus, death is merely falling asleep and waking up renewed in Heaven in Jesus’ arms. How else could David and Paul write, “O Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?”

As Thanksgiving gives way to the Christmas season, I am thankful for being Grandmom’s grandson – and for the culture of love that Grandmom fostered in us all. Who else was so forgiving (“Maybe there is an illness in the family.”) or longsuffering (“Maybe they were having a bad day.”)? This is not to cover all of Grandmom’s flaws – as we all have them – but certainly her strengths have taught me many things that I shall treasure until I join her where she is (in glory)—So Close, So Far Away.







If you would like to read more about our family, please see the following posts about our annual Pollyanna Party and more:








Wednesday, January 23, 2019

History Through Music: Stephen Foster's "Better Times Are Coming"


This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

There are many ways to study history. One can use primary sources like newspapers published during the year of an event, contemporary diaries, or secondary resources like books examining the American Civil War by James McPherson or historical accounts like that written by Michael Shaara about Gettysburg (The Killer Angels). One can also use songs to study history.

A song that offers a great opportunity for studying the early history of the American Civil War – written by Stephen Foster – is the optimistic song, "Better Times Are Coming." Throughout the song, there is mention of at least 15 different people, places, and things connected to the American Civil War. From the flag of the United States to President Abraham Lincoln, one can find many things to study using just this one song.



As a song primarily popular in the North during the Civil War due to the mention of all of the Northerner 'heroes,' "Better Times Are Coming" indicates that Foster kept up-to-date about the goings-on of the war – at least in part due to newspapers. Foster published 17 songs in 1862, five of which (including "Better Times Are Coming") were about the Civil War.

Studying the Civil War 


After listening to the song, choose several of the people or topics mentioned to study.


  • Abraham Lincoln 
  • Edwin M. Stanton 
  • George McClellan 
  • Winfield Scott 
  • Nathaniel Lyon 
  • Edward D. Baker 
  • Elmer Ellsworth 
  • Franz Sigel 
  • Henry Halleck 
  • Ambrose Burnside
  • John C. Fremont 
  • James Shield 
  • Thomas Meagher 
  • John Ericsson
  • Monitor 
  • Merrimac
  • Hampton Roads



Please view videos prior to sharing with your family or children.




Resources and References 


You can request the sheet music from the Library of Congress

A fantastic resource is the the Official Records or ORs. You can find The War of Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies at Cornell University Library 

A good overview is available at the American Battlefield Trust

Several of my previous posts explore the American Civil War from individuals like Robert E. Lee to battlefields such as Fredericksburg and Gettysburg



Looking for more on the American Civil War?



  

  


Friday, January 18, 2019

Minnie Mouse-Themed Birthday Party

Minnie Mouse-themed cake

This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Just as our son loves all things Mickey Mouse, our daughter loves Minnie Mouse so it only seemed natural to host a Minnie Mouse-Themed Birthday Party for her as she turned three. Fortunately, we were able to reuse a lot of the items from our son's birthday party.

Food


food for a Minnie Mouse party


This year we didn't have as many themed food items as we picked things that our children would enjoy eating – their preferred veggies and snack items.

Veggie Tray & Fruit Tray


Cheese & Quackers 


Everyone in our family enjoys the cheese and cracker trays...so we went with different brands and flavors to provide variety.

Bow-tie salad, treats, and pizza rolls

Bow-tie Pasta Salad


My in-laws provided a yummy salad using bow-tie shaped pasta.

Pizza Rolls 


We made mini-pizza rolls from crescent rolls, pepperoni, cheese, and oregano seasoning. These were a great hit!



Sweets 


I hand dipped pretzel rods and wafer cookies in melted chocolate and sprinkled them with different toppings. Of course, I used white, pink, and red to fit the Minnie Mouse theme.


Cake and Cupcakes 


Minnie Mouse-themed cupcake dress
Minnie Mouse Dress made of cupcakes!

Minnie Mouse-themed birthday cake


Decorations




Games



Pin the Bow


I created a Pin the Bow on Minnie game for the kids to play.

Pin the Bow on Minnie Mouse

Pin the Bow on Minnie Mouse





Looking for more party ideas? 







Thursday, January 17, 2019

Book Club: Book Review of Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith

image of Grandparenting book cover


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

A new book in the Grandparenting Matters series was released by Bethany House – Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith by Dr. Josh Mulvihill. In reviewing the book, I found much useful and practical advice for grandparents who wish to have a Christian relationship with their grandchildren using the Bible and Jesus as their guides. The book's introduction provides a clear and detailed explanation for its purpose. I found Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith to be very well organized – one could seek just the specific information they are interested in – or read the work cover to cover.

Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith is broken down into four parts:

  • Cultural Messages
  • God's Design
  • Discipleship Practices 
  • Strengthening Relationships 

There are also three appendices and notes, if you wish to research the matters discussed further on your own.

Quote (Grandparents are awakening to their God-designed roles) and image of a swan


Great Organization 



Each chapter is subdivided to make it even easier to navigate the topic. For example, in Chapter 7: God's Vision for Your Family from Psalm 78 – How to Be an Intentional Grandparent, Mulvihill  helps the reader examine how to apply Psalm 78 to their own life. He hopes that "Psalm 78 does one of two things: provides confidence and affirms that you are headed in the right direction, or provides clarity and encourages you to adjust your ways" (93). Focusing on God – bringing the work and teachings of God to one's grandchildren is key to an intentional grandparent. In addition to the examination of Psalm 78, Mulvihill gives an example of one grandmother and offers questions ("Grand Chat") for the reader to use to further what they have learned.


Quote (Flexibility is one of the best gifts grandparents can give their children and grandchildren) and image of grandfather and granddaughter

What I Like 



I found Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith an easy and enjoyable read. Even though I am not a grandparent, I found lots of great advice that I can apply to my own life as a parent. There are very simple steps described that any family can implement – no matter if the grandparents are involved or not. For example, having intentional meals where families use meal time to connect. And for grandparents, the advice of serving child-friendly food and accommodating food preferences, special diets, and food sensitivities are great reminders.

Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith is full of scriptural references – asking the reader to seek out their Bible to help them become grandparents who will "pass on a rich heritage of faith in Christ and make a difference" in the lives of their grandchildren.

I recommend Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith to Christian families seeking assistance in learning how to focus on Christ and build relationships with children and grandchildren. It would fit well on the bookshelves of homes or churches as a valuable resource.



Looking for reviews of other parenting books? 

Please read these others on my blog. 


Image for Prayer Warriors book review link  Image of Parenting Teen book review link

Image of Love, Honor, and Virtue book review link