Thursday, August 30, 2018

Book Club: Mid-Year Review of Reading List 2018

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

Do you enjoy reading? Do you create reading lists?

I set out with some lofty goals to read one book a month from a specific list I put together. You can read about the twelve books I chose here: Book Club: Reading List for 2018.  I haven't made it through many books on my actual list but I have read many books from the library and several that I have received to review for my blog.

The Walk Series

I started reading The Walk Series by Richard Paul Evans after having read The Christmas Box and Lost December which were recommendations from a Facebook group. I am enjoying this series about Alan Christofferson and his walk from Seattle to Key West. While I may not agree with all the twists and turns that Richard Paul Evans is taking his readers on, I am finding hope in the story of Alan and the people he meets along the way.

Reading List for 2018 Books

I have completed the following books:

Doctor Who: Twelve Doctors of Christmas: I enjoyed the majority of the tales but I think I would have been able to better appreciate all 12 stories if I was more familiar with each Doctor. I think my favorite stories included: Sontar's Little Helpers, The Red Bicycle, and Loose Wire.

A Study in Sable by Mercedes Lackey

You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

I am in the middle of the following books:

Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

God Loves You by David Jeremiah

Children's Books

Here is a brief selection of some of the children's books our family read (sometimes more than once, twice, or even thrice!)

Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schulz
I did not really like this book at all. I felt the concept of someone or something being blamed for ruining everything was not the right message to send to children.

God Made the World by Sarah Jean Collins
Sarah Jean Collins' God Made the World (A Tyndale Kids Title) is a wonderful board book depicting the first seven days of the world through clean, simple, and bright illustrations and a rhyming narrative. Young children are introduced to the history of creation as narrated in the the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

The Little Red Hen by Philemon Sturges
I really liked the retelling of this story! It was cute and sent a good message about working together at the end.

LEGO City: Heroes! Lift-the-Flap Board Book by Alana Cohen
This was another favorite of ours. In December and January, our children watched us play the game LEGO City: Undercover and this book shared a lot of similar locations from the game. We loved going through, reading the story, and lifting the flaps.

Pug Pals: Two's a Crowd by Flora Ahn 
Do you have children who love dogs? Then Pug Pals: Two’s a Crowd by Flora Ahn is a perfect story about two dogs for your family. It is not only great for dog lovers but also for siblings because it illustrates the need to cooperate and get along.

Selection of Review Books

A Pocketful of Hope for Mothers by Robin Jones Gunn
This is a great book that – if I didn't like it so much myself – I would pass along to other moms. With all of the wonderful wisdom and advice inside, it truly does offer hope for each mother in her journey.

Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily by Ron L. Deal
Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily is a great book that will remain on or near my coffee table all year. With encouragement, tips, and ideas for stepfamilies provided on a daily basis, it is a wonderful resource for families like my own.

William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All by Janet and Geoff Benge
I had several other books in the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then and Now series on my to-read list that when I had the opportunity to review William Penn, I was very excited. This biography of William Penn did not disappoint and I look forward to reading others in the series.

Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others Learn to See by Jennifer Beakley
One of my favorite books so far that I have reviewed for a publishing company has been Joey. I even enjoyed it so much that I gave it to my mom to read and I will probably lend it out to other family members because the message is great.

Helping Your Children Become Prayer Warriors by Anne Marie Gosnell
I was very happy to read Helping Your Children Become Prayer Warriors because I found so many useful tips to assist my children (and myself) become better at praying. One of the suggestions that our family has put into practice is the Blessing Jar – we each write down one thing we are thankful for or feel blessed with that day and put it in the jar to read later. It is such a powerful exercise.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC by Connie L. Meyer
Our family loved this book! It is a wonderful Bible ABC story book from which we created a number of crafts to help reinforce the verses being taught.

The Road Home by Beverly Lewis
This year I read my first book by Beverly Lewis and I found out why so many people read her books. She has a way of telling a story that brings characters and locations to life. I am glad I found another author whose books I will be happy to read.

You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You To Be by Holley Gerth
I thoroughly enjoyed the wisdom offered by Holley Gerth in this easy-to-read book. We are already amazing!

Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos & Crisis by Patty Scott 
Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos & Crisis by Patty Scott is a wonderful resource for parents of not only teens but also younger children as they prepare for those teen years.

Summer Reading 

Do you find you are able to read more or less during the summer time? I used to read a lot more books during the summer when I was in high school (and not working as a camp counselor) and the few summers in college when I didn't have a 40-hour-work week.

I loved to sit outside in the backyard, listen to the birds, hear the splash of the bird fountain, and feel the warm breeze as I read books of far off places and times. Now I find myself sitting in my air-conditioned house reading while my two younger children run around, play with their toys, or sit and read alongside of me. I hope that the rest of July and August will afford me with time to get outside and read!

If you are looking for some great summer reading books for teens, check out my post, Summer Readers from Sonlight.

If you created a reading list, how far have you gotten? Do you veer off the list mid-year, or work through it methodically? I hope you continue on this reading journey with me to the end of the year!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

O is for Oregon Trail (Blogging through the Alphabet)


In the 1840s, the United States had a population boom that led to the question: where would all the people live and work? The vision of John L. O'Sullivan – Manifest Destiny – seemed to provide a solution and the Oregon Trail provided the roadway for Americans. Manifest Destiny was the idea that Americans had the duty and right to expand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This expansion would lead to greater commerce, new inventions and advancements in technology, and an opening of the West to American citizens in greater numbers.

The original territory of Oregon Country – the perfect place for people to move – had the Pacific Ocean as its border on the West, the Rocky Mountains bordering it to the East, the 42nd parallel to the South, and Russian Alaska provided a border in the North. Both the United States and the United Kingdom wanted the Oregon Country and each nearly had an equal claim. Only a handful of fur traders and mountain men had made the journey along the Oregon Trail in 1820s so there was not a large number of American, British, or Canadian citizens.

The first wagon trains set out from Independence, Missouri in 1841 along the Oregon Trail and the history began – along with a tradition for elementary-aged students playing an Oregon Trail-themed game of the 1980s and 1990s (although I only got to play it once or twice in school).

On this journey westward along the Oregon Trail, emigrants would encounter Plains Indians – Sioux, Cheyenne, Shoshoni, Arapaho, Kiowa, Wichita, and Comanche – who led nomadic, "warrior-like" lives dependent on the herds of buffalo. The Emigrants felt threatened by the Native Americans and requested protection so the government built a series of forts along the Oregon Trail.

The journey on the Oregon Trail took about 6 months to traverse the 2,000 miles. The emigrants would only travel about 15 miles a day and faced the following challenges at different points in their trip:
  • Heat
  • Droughts 
  • Rivers
  • Diseases
  • Exhaustion 
  • Snow 
  • Food shortages 
  • Freezing temperatures 
  • Dangers of everyday life – cooking, hunting, childbirth 
Because people were moving permanently out West, the items they packed for their journey along the Oregon Trail were many and varied. Items included the supplies they would need along the trail in addition to what would be needed as people started their homestead or farm. (People needed fewer supplies if their destination was digging for gold or other minerals.) 

Items might include – depending on the size of the family journeying – the following: 
  • 200-600 pounds of flour 
  • 150-300 pounds of salt pork or bacon 
  • 20-100 pounds of sugar
  • 25-60 pounds of coffee 
  • 10 pounds of salt
  • Beans and rice
  • Yeast
  • Cornmeal 
  • Dried meat
  • Dried fruit 
  • Water for drinking 
  • Sewing kit, cooking utensils and pots and pans 
  • Medicine
  • Lanterns
  • Wax and candles 
  • Tools like plow, shovel, rake, hoe, saw, axe, mallet, and plane
  • Seed for farming
  • Livestock – such as a cow, a pig, or goats
  • Clothes
  • Toys for children 
  • Books
Everyone had many chores on the journey including the children. They might help with washing dishes, collecting water, milking the cow, collecting buffalo chips, and maybe even hunting for fresh game. 

This is such an interesting time period in American history and there are many great resources available to help you learn more. 


National Park Service Oregon National Historic Trail  

Friday, August 24, 2018

Back to School: Homeschool Style: Must-Have Items in Our Homeschool

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

What items just make your homeschool day run smoothly? Are there items that you couldn't live without? Earlier in the week I addressed some essentials in our homeschool and I want to showcase a few more today.

The Printed Word 

There are so many books that I find invaluable for our homeschooling. I have large collection of classic novels that we will be able to share with our children. I also have shelf after shelf of numerous history books that will be great for reference.

Over the years I have collected most of William Shakespeare's plays as well as the novels of Charles Dickens. I have several collections of Edgar Allan Poe's poems, short stories, and essays. In addition to these fictional works, I also have biographies and histories of individuals from Tudor England, the American Civil War, and Russia to name a few places and time periods.

Pretty Pictures 

Visuals are so important to education – from paintings and comic books to movies and videos – children can learn in so many different ways. I love that we live near enough to several museums where we can view art from a variety of time periods and styles.

We can also incorporate movies and videos into our homeschooling day without them just becoming a time filler like so often happens in the classroom. For example, if we are studying the American Civil War, we can watch Glory and then discuss its facts and inaccuracies. If we have the means, we could also visit the sites in Boston and South Carolina that feature prominently in the movie. I also have own several other fictional accounts of the Civil War including the North and South miniseries, the Blue and Gray miniseries, and Gone with the Wind.

For our younger children, our collection of Veggie Tales DVDs is a must-have! From the retelling of Bible stories to lessons about how to treat others, they are an excellent resource for families with younger children. Our children like Veggie Tales so much we even had a Veggie Tales-themed Birthday Party for our son.

How Many Dice Do You Need? 

Okay – that is really a trick question because you don't really need more than one set with D4, D6, D8, D10, D20, and percentile with a few extra D6 for most activities we do. But who doesn't want all the pretty dice? In our family, we each have a lunch box of dice (plus more). We use them for role playing as well as for games, counters, markers for activities and lessons, counting syllables, adding and subtracting, telling stories, and more.

Dice collecting is a side effect of liking dice. Multiple sets of dice are inevitable because they're often so brilliant and/or colorful. You can even buy dice by the pound! How cool is that? Then there are the rarer dice like the D3, D5, D7, D14, D24, D30, and on and on...

Writing Utensils 

Personally, I dislike using pencils. I have at my hand a collection of different brands of pens – including many colors. I like to use a purple pen for my blog and blue for making notes about others' blogs. I like to color code my notes, calendar, and schedule so that I keep everything straight. Right now I think our children use whatever pen or pencil is handy. Do you have a preferred pen or pencil brand? Do you like to color code with pens or maybe highlighters?

What are the must-haves in your homeschool?

If you have a moment, please visit the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew to see their posts for today and the rest of the week!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Back to School: Homeschool Style: Thankful for Homeschooling

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

There are so many things I am thankful for each day – and homeschooling is one! Being able to work on our own schedule using a variety of methods and materials is one of the keys to making our homeschool successful. I am also thankful for the fact that we can be together as a family. I will be able to be there for my children as they learn, grow, and explore about the world around them.

Our Own Schedule 

I have discovered over the years that I have become a night owl and I find that both our teen and our 3-year-old daughter seem to fare better later in the day. So while our five-year-old son prefers the morning hours, we can all adjust to work and learn on our own schedule.

With our teen homeschooling, he can plan out his day for when he finds he is the most successful. If that means he prefers to do school work after dinner time, that is fine with me!

Do you have early birds or night owls in your family?

Image of Home School in the Woods History Through the Ages Timeline

Variety - Making Our Own Choices 

As a former teacher I am very aware of the great variety of teaching materials for one subject – add in all of the subjects and it can be overwhelming! But with variety, we as a family can find out what actually works for our children. For example, I can introduce different topics in history with Homeschool in the Woods and then go to the library to check out more books on the time period (if we don't already have books in our own collection). Being able to examine World War I battles through games or create timelines of ancient civilizations makes it all the more interesting for everyone.

Image of the War to End All Wars File Game from Home School in the Woods


I can't imagine sending all of our children to school anymore. While I know that public or private school works for some families, I am not ready to give up my children to someone else for 5 or more hours per day. I want to be there when my children have questions and be the one to provide them with the means to answer them.

What things are you thankful for when it comes to homeschooling? Is there one thing that sticks out as more important than the others?

I am joining the Homeschool Review Crew during the week for a Blog Hop. I am so thankful to have discovered this wonderful community of fellow homeschoolers. Please be sure to check out the other blog posts including those of the following Crew:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Back to School: Homeschool Style: Back to School Essentials

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

When the back to school commercials start or the seasonal aisles at the store change to displays of pens, notebooks, and glue, do you get excited? Do you start making lists of your own essentials? How many of those items do you purchase in the store versus online?

We have a few essentials in our household for homeschooling. Some are the typical items that any student – whether they attend a public or private school or are homeschooled – might need. Others are things that maybe only a homeschooling family would list as essential.

Essentials in Our Home 

How We Use These Essentials 

We will be using Jellytelly to help enhance our Bible Studies and reinforce character education through their excellent videos. Jellytelly is a streaming service that provides programming for Christian families. We have found the series What's in the Bible? to be a great introduction to the Bible for our younger children and a good refresher for those of us who are older. Personally, I have really enjoyed watching the Friends and Heroes series with our children the Holy Moly! series. Two of the series that are great for reinforcing character education include 321 Penguins! and Monster Truck Adventures.

In the short time that I have been aware of, it has become an essential tool for our family. From the classes and lessons for our children, to recipes for me to try out, to the new forum to share ideas with other homeschooling families, I love it all. And another bonus is the super helpful staff! 

We had the privilege of reviewing Home School Navigator this year as part of the Homeschool Review Crew and it is one our five-year-old's favorite programs. We are in the middle of Level Red and we will be finishing it out this year as his language arts program. It is so flexible and offers so many different activities to hold his interest. You can read more about it in my review!

One of the early activities in Home School Navigator that our children still enjoy!

Do you have any back to school essentials that I didn't list? How do you fit in all those fun projects and electives into your schedule?

If you have a chance, please visit other members of the Homeschool Review Crew to read how other homeschooling families 'work it.'

Here are just a few of the Crew who have joined up for this Blog Hop! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Back to School: Homeschool Style: What is New to Our Homeschool?

It is always exciting to start on a new journey. We are at the start of our homeschooling life; so pretty much everything we are using is new to our homeschool.

I am excited this year to really dig into for our teenager. We hope to use the following courses:
  • American Literature in Historical Context
  • Addressing Cultural Issues 
  • General Biology by Core Academy
  • Geometry with Mr. D. Math 
I have started printing out lesson plans for those courses that have them and the necessary documents. I have also bookmarked the courses for our teen so he will be able to easily find them online.  

American Literature in Historical Context 

One of the things I was incorporating into my AP US History course as a teacher was more literature and primary sources. I think it is very important not to study history (or literature) in isolation. Therefore, I think this will be a very interesting course for both our teen and myself. 

During American Literature in Historical Context we will be taking a look at American literature from pre-colonial times through the present day by reading such authors as 
  • Washington Irving 
  • Edgar Allan Poe 
  • Louisa May Alcott 
  • Mark Twain 
  • Ray Bradbury 
  • and others 

Addressing Cultural Issues 

I hope to incorporate a few shorter courses that will help our teen be able to navigate the world with a Biblical perspective. Addressing Cultural Issues is a course with 6 hours of video and several worksheets to help fuel discussions. Three of the videos are available through RightNow Media with no expiration date but three of the six videos are licenced from Day of Discovery with an expiration of August 2019. There are few courses where parents and students are notified upfront that the material is under licence. 

One of the reasons why I wanted to use this course is because as the course description states: "traditional biblical values are not only rejected, but it seems as if they're attacked on every front." How can we, as Christians, handle ourselves in today's world? I am hoping this course will help us answer some of the many questions that we find ourselves asking each day. 

General Biology by Core Academy 

As biology is the typical 10th grade science course for students in our state, I chose General Biology by Core Academy to serve as our course. It is a general high school biology course covering human biology, ecology, zoology, botany, microbiology, cell biology, genetics, and origins over the course of 32 weeks. There are over 25 hours of video instruction along with reading assignments, notes, worksheets, vocabulary, and quizzes. 

I like that General Biology is divided into two semesters and multiple units. This will make it very easy to schedule our time. 

Geometry with Mr. D Math 

Last year our teen attended public school and took Algebra I. The recommended next course for math is Geometry so we decided to use Geometry with Mr. D Math. It is a full-year course with twelve chapters of video-based instruction, tests, semester exams, and answer keys. Some of the topics covered include: points, lines, planes and angles, triangles, area and perimeter, and circles – to name a few. 

While our teen has struggled at times in his math courses in the past, I am hopeful that since we will be able to move at his pace – work towards his own mastery of information – that he will succeed more easily. I think he may find that homeschooling will help him achieve more mathematically. 

We look forward to using for both our teen and five-year-old as we embark on our homeschooling journey. 

If you have a moment and are looking to find new curriculum, ideas for field trips, or other homeschooling tips, please visit a member or two of the Homeschool Review Crew! 

Christine Howard – The Simple Homemaker – Schoolin' Swag – Footprints in the Butter –Homeschool Review – Homeschool 4 Life –  A Stable Beginning – Thou Shall Not Whine –  A Glimpse of Our Life

Monday, August 20, 2018

Back to School: Homeschool Style: Motivation for a Successful Day

What keeps you motivated to keep going during the day? How do you find the encouragement you need to push through the bad moments?

Personally, I can count five things that motivate me off the top of my head. Maybe one or more of them will help you, too?

Find one thing that makes you happy. 

I enjoy video games. It is really nice to know that after a long day of being a mom and a housewife, I will be able to relax in the evening by playing some video games. I enjoy playing games by myself (like Stardew Valley) or with my husband and sometimes our teen (like Borderlands).

If I don't have time to actually play a video game, I like to watch a "Let's Play" of a game on YouTube. There are so many games out there, it is nice to enjoy them without the actual time commitment of playing them all. Seeing someone else play can help games stay fun and keep off any pressure that games might add.

"To every thing there is a season" 

There are always going to be difficult moments in life but we can take heart that God will see us through – even the darkest times. Today may end up not being a successful day but there is always hope that a new day will dawn with new chances and challenges.

Checklists – A Blessing and a Curse 

Personally, I tend to find the good and bad in using checklists. While I enjoy being able to check off a task completed (I even sometimes add a completed one to my list just so I can check it off!), it is sometimes discouraging to see many unchecked tasks. 

I would recommend keeping checklists simple to things you HAVE to accomplish. That way they can still motivate you but won't bring you down with too many unaccomplished tasks. They can be done another day. 

Get Up and Move Music 

Sometimes to get motivated you (may) just need to dance! I find there are some songs that get me moving like no others. And then there are some that just put a happy smile on my face. Do you have a playlist of motivating music? Or a favorite song that helps spur you on?

Why not give "Way Back Home" by Bob Crosby and the Bobcats a listen? That is one of my go-to tunes.

Good Meals 

One thing I sometimes struggle with is eating. I tend to skip meals as I get involved in tasks. And on other occasions I feel like a failure at dinner time. What to make? Who will eat the prepared meal? Will dinner time be a battle? So one of the things to help keep me motivated this coming school year will be preparing for meals in advance. Not so much a meal plan – because I can't ever seem to stick to one – but having multiple, good options available for each meal.

Do you meal plan? Or do you like to cook based upon inspiration?

Please be sure to check out the rest of the Homeschool Review Crew all week for 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement!

These are just a few of the members who are participating in the Blog Hop!

Friday, August 17, 2018

N is for Nicky and Alix (Blogging through the Alphabet)


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

One area of history that has always interested me was Russian History. After having the pleasure of taking a Russian History course taught by a professor from Russia, my interest grew. A very fascinating period of Russian History is that of the Romanov Dynasty. For decades, people have been intrigued by the last Romanov Tsar and his family and asked many "what if" questions. Many people claimed to be a surviving member of the family and even a children's movie (Anastasia) was made to tell the story.

In this post, I will share details from the early life of Nicholas and Alexandra and leave the drama of the Russian Revolutions and their subsequent arrest, imprisonment, and execution to a future post.

Youths Meet and Fall in Love 

Nicholas and Alexandra first met in 1884. Princess Alix of Hesse – called "Sunny" by her family – was 12 years old while Nicholas (her second cousin) was 16 years old.

Sunny had a happy and pleasant disposition but was often shy and quiet. Her early years had been marked by sadness. In 1873, her 3-year-old brother fell from their mother's bedroom window. He died within hours of internal bleeding. Her mother died when she was only 6 years old.

Alix's mother was the daughter of Queen Victoria and Alix could trace her lineage back to Charlemagne.

Nicky was an outdoorsman – enjoying hiking, hunting, shooting, walking, and riding. He was tutored in mathematics, geography, science, and history but preferred spending time outside rather than in the classroom. He spoke five languages – 3 fluently – English, French, and Russian. Nicky was described as "full of quiet" and very gentle.

Unfortunately, Nicky was not trained in politics. He had little interest in politics and did not understand it. When he was only 13 years old, Nicky witnessed his grandfather, Alexander II, die after a terrorist's bomb blew him up. This led to repression under the rule of Nicky's father, Alexander III and the idea of absolute control by the Romanovs. Nicky's father kept him out of politics so when he came to the throne, he was quite unprepared for the task.

Winter Season and Young Love 

In 1889, Alix arrived in St. Petersburg for the winter social season. During the time Nicky and Alix would see each other at numerous grand balls, dinners, and other social outings. The two quickly fell in love. When Alix left the city, Nicky soon pasted a photo of her in his diary.

There were reservations regarding the match between Nicholas and Alexandra. Queen Victoria, who had been instrumental in the rearing of Alix and her siblings since the death of their mother, was not pleased with the match. Queen Victoria wanted them placed in marriages she approved of and Russia was not one of those locales. Alexander III did not want Queen Victoria involved in Russian affairs any more than necessary and was looking for a match between his son and France to cement an alliance.

For a brief period, Nicky had a relationship with the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska but he still loved his Prussian Princess – Alix of Hesse – and there is no way that he would be able to marry a ballerina anyway as he was the heir to the Romanov dynasty. In the fall of 1890, Nicholas was sent on a tour of the Far East. He traveled with his brother and their cousin through Egypt, India, Thailand, and Japan.

The Otsu Mark 

While visiting Japan, Nicholas and his brother Grand Duke George and his cousin Prince George visited the town of Otsu. While walking along a crowded street, Nicky was attacked by one of the  policemen, Tsuda Sanzō. The policeman swung a saber delivering a blow to Nicky's forehead. Prince George stopped the assassination attempt by going after the attacker with a bamboo cane. (The first blow left a mark on Nicky's forehead.) The Russians returned soon after and Nicky resumed his affair with his ballerina, Kschessinska. 

In 1892, Alix's father died and she became lady of Hesse with her brother the Grand Duke of Hesse. It appeared that she might be content to remain the hostess of Hesse but things were to change when Nicky's father, Alexander III, grew sick in 1894. With his illness, he finally let go of his opposition to a marriage between his son, Nicholas, and Alix of Hesse.


The final piece that was needed was Alix's conversion from Lutheranism to Russian Orthodoxy. Originally, she was very firm in the fact that religion was "not a thing to be slipped on and off 'like a glove'" but her resolve began to weaken with the conversion of her sister and the marriage of her brother. 

Marriage Proposal 

In April 1894, while attending the wedding of Alix's brother, Ernest – Ernie – and Princess Victoria of Edinburgh, Nicky proposed to his love. While she loved him, she did not want to give up her religion. But this wasn't to be the end of the proposal. Everyone seemed to have an opinion. Queen Victoria was still opposed to the match between Nicky and Alix but Kaiser Wilhelm I (Cousin Willy) said it was Alix's duty to marry Nicky. However it was Alix's sister, Ella – who had converted earlier, who spoke of the personal experience. Her reassurance of the new faith persuaded Alix to accept Nicky's proposal.

In a touching scene, Nicky and Alix became engaged while a thunderstorm raged outside. (Foreshadowing of the troubles to come? Probably just a sad coincidence.) Both cried tears of happiness and there was great rejoicing among Alix's family.

Six Months of Happiness

Both Nicky and Alix spent time in England together where they would grow in their love. Alix began reading Nicky's diary and writing in the margin her own notes. They traveled to visit Queen Victoria at Windsor where she entreated Nicky to call her Granny. A Russian language teacher, Catherine Schneider, and Father John Yanishev, the Romanov's confessor, arrived to school Alix in language and religion.

Happiness was soon ended when the failing health of Alexander III led to his death on November 1, 1894. Nicholas II was in no way ready to rule Russia. He was never trained in how to rule for Alexander III had ruled with an iron fist and did not involve his son and heir.

The following weeks were filled with ceremonies and funerals leading up to the wedding of Nicholas and Alexandra on November 26, 1894. Unfortunately, Alexandra wrote that the wedding seemed to be a continuation of the masses for the dead with the only difference being she was wearing a white dress instead of a black one. What had started as a happy time – both Nicky and Alix were so in love – would be overshadowed with the death of a Tsar and the problems that would come with Nicholas II as the new leader of Russia.

Things would never really be normal for the couple. Times were greatly changing with advancements in technology and changes in leadership across Europe. War would soon come and with it revolutions that would bring about the end of the Romanov Dynasty completely and totally. For only a short while, Nicky and Alix were happy as a couple.

References and Resources 

Images from WPClipart, Openclipart, and Stock Free Images.

Winter Palace image credit: © Valuykins | Stock Free Images

I own both this book and the movie (which I really enjoy!).

I linked up with the following blog(s):