Saturday, September 28, 2019

B is for Barton (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 of the very first volunteers to help care for wounded American Civil War soldiers was Clarissa "Clara" Harlowe Barton. When the Civil War broke out, she was working as a clerk in the United States Patent Office in Washington D.C.. She would go out to gather medical supplies and then arrive on the battlefield or at field hospitals with her materials to help. She would become known as the "Angel of the Battlefield" due to her nursing during many of the major battles as well as for the comfort she would provide the wounded men. Some of these battles included the battles of Cedar Mountain, Fairfax Station, Harpers Ferry, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, and Cold Harbor.

Second Battle of Manassas

After the second battle of Manassas in Maryland, the casualties of the Union army were high. Over five days, they had suffered 16,000 casualties out of 65,000. The wounded were left to a world of confusion behind Union lines. Secretary of War Stanton requested volunteer nurses to help but a great number of them were not helpful at all. They were drunk or accepted bribes to take healthy ambulance drivers back to D.C. rather than the wounded. Women nurses led by Clara Barton assisted in making sure the wounded men had a place to rest before boarding trains that would take them back to D.C. The nurses laid out hay on the ground for bedding: "by midnight there must have been three thousand helpless men lying in that hay" Barton wrote on September 4, 1862.

moving wounded after the 2nd battle of Bull Run image from
Moving the wounded after the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)

Battle of Antietam 

At the battle at Antietam, Clara Barton arrived with three wagons filled with supplies. She actually arrived ahead of the military medical units. She and her associates worked during the battle to help bring comfort and aid to the wounded. She would help train men to perform basic first aid as well as carry water and prepare food for the wounded at the battle.

Working in the Coastal Regions of South Carolina 

Barton worked on both Hilton Head Island and later Morris Island to help the wounded soldiers. After the battle of Fort Wagner, she would look to help relieve sickness that was occurring on the island by distributing fresh food to the men.

New Position 

Abraham Lincoln appointed Barton the General Correspondent for the Friends of Paroled Prisoners. This position required her to answer inquiries from friends and family looking for their missing loved ones. She would assist in looking on the prison rolls, parole rolls, and casualty lists. To assist in this enormous task, Barton established the Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States. Barton and her staff received over 63,000 requests for help and were able to find 22,000 men (some were still alive).

Helping to Bury the Union Dead at Andersonville 

Unfortunately, of the 22,000 men found, there were 13,000 men who were in one place: Andersonville. Another task that Clara Barton took on with the aid of others was that of identifying and ensuring that the Union men who had died at the Andersonville Prison were buried in a cemetery. Dorence Atwater, who was imprisoned at Andersonville, kept a list of the dead and helped Barton and a team of 30 military men to help lay to rest 13,000 men in the national cemetery at Andersonville. Each of those 13,000 men's graves were marked.

American Red Cross image from
American Red Cross

American Red Cross

After the American Civil War, Barton visited Europe and became involved in the International Red Cross. She would help during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Even though she wasn't officially associated with the Red Cross, she would fashion a representative of the Red Cross symbol with a ribbon so that she could help distribute relief resources in France.

In 1880, the American Red Cross was founded and Clara Barton worked as its first president. For the first 20 years, the American Red Cross acted as a disaster relief organization. They would help with the forest fires in Michigan in 1881 and again in 1884 at the Johnstown flood in Pennsylvania. Towards the end of her presidency, the American Red Cross would begin to provide help to the American military and civilians during wartime. They aided American armed forces and refugees from the Spanish-American War.

photograph of Drayton Hall
Drayton Hall at Charleson, SC

Looking for more History Posts? 

In the previous Blogging through the Alphabet series, I wrote about Florence Nightingale (who is also well known for nursing) as well as Antietam and Charleston.

Do You Want to Join Up?

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Book Club: Book Review of Until the Mountains Fall

This post contains affiliate links. I received a free copy of Until the Mountains Fall for participating in a survey. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

I had the pleasure to read and review the second book in the Cities of Refuge series, Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette previously. I was very excited to get the chance to read the third book – Until the Mountains Fall which tells the story of Rivkah and Malakhi. Connilyn Cossette has developed a strong set of characters who live in the city of Kedesh and I was happy to read more of the families' stories as devastating choices are made by Rivkah that impact everyone. 

What is the Story About? 

At the heart of the story is a retelling of the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke. Rivkah makes the decision to leave Kedesh after it has been arranged that she marry her deceased husband's brother – Malakhi. Through the story, we see that the small boy who teased and was a terror to Rivkah really loved her. He was trying to make her smile and laugh. Unfortunately, Rivkah does not know this and allows her annoyance with the whole situation to guide her to make a wrong decision. She leaves the city of Kedesh and through her journey she becomes engulfed in experiences that lead her to become a scribe for an unsavory individual.

Until the Mountains Fall takes place over the course of several years. "Off-screen" Malakhi takes up arms to fight the Canaanites rather than staying in Kedesh to dwell upon what he has lost. After an injury forces him to return home, he starts to tend his deceased brother's beehives and attempts to salvage what his brother left behind. During this time, Rivkah's father, Amitai, receives a note from his daughter, "Forgive me."

What do I Think? 

I was happy to see the story of the children of Moriyah and Darek continue with that of Malakhi. I enjoyed reading about Sofea and Eitan in Shelter of the Most High so it was nice to see more development of the children to whom we had been previously introduced.

I love the cover art of all the books but this one especially draws me into the story of Rivkah. Like so many, she makes a bad choice which negatively impacts her life and she does not think she has a way out of the problems she created for herself. She trusted a new friend (who hasn't done this) and found herself out of her element and unsafe.

There is so much that readers will be able to connect with in Until the Mountains Fall. From the choices made by both main characters, to the undying love of Rivkah's father, we can relate to their decisions and choices today even though the story is set after the Conquest and before the Judges.

I recommend Until the Mountains Fall for individuals who enjoy historical fiction, Christian romance, and books with strong characters. You might also want to check out some of the other books from Bethany House Publishers such as Whose Waves These Are and The Curse of Misty Wayfair.

Want to Learn More About Connilyn Cosette? 

Friday, September 20, 2019

A is for Andersonville (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

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

There are many horrific events and locations connected to the American Civil War including those places in which soldiers were kept as prisoners. Andersonville, Georgia (officially called Camp Sumter) was known as one of the worst places for Union soldiers to be imprisoned during the Civil War.

In 1864, Camp Sumter was built in Andersonville, GA to house the Union prisoners. The Confederate government made the decision to move all the prisoners who were being housed in and around the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, to a location that would be more secure (especially as the Union was pushing closer and closer to Richmond).

Andersonville Prison image from

Andersonville was in existence for a mere 14 months but housed 45,000 Union soldiers with approximately 13,000 of them dying due to disease, malnutrition, exposure to the elements and other causes. It grew in size from the original 16.5 acres to 26.5 acres in an attempt to accommodate the growing number of men being held there during the final years of the Civil War. The prison was enclosed by a stockade wall. About 19 feet from the wall was the 'deadline' which prisoners were forbidden to cross. This restriction was to prevent prisoners from trying to climb over the wall or tunnel out. If a prisoner was found crossing the deadline, one of the guards in the sentry boxes or 'pigeon roosts' was allowed to shoot them.


Even though part of the reason of moving the men to Andersonville was to provide better house and access to food and water, these things would not actually occur. There was only one source of water for the prison - a branch of Sweetwater creek - and with rations in dwindling supply for the rest of the Confederacy there wasn't much left for Union prisoners. The economic conditions in the Confederacy were poor—namely, a lack of transportation and materials—and the government needed to supply its army.

From the official records of The War of the Rebellion, we have several accounts of the conditions of the prison. These provide first-hand accounts of the terrible conditions suffered in Georgia.

In early August, it is written that 3 surgeons attended the men at the prison and found 27,000 men imprisoned in a 25-acre enclosure, half of which is swamp land. There were 75 to 100 men dying daily. Those that were surviving had no shelter of any kind and their overcoats and blankets were taken away from them. In the field hospital at the prison there were 600 men with no medical attention.

In a letter to Major General John H. Foster of the U.S. Army, Stewart L. Woodford shared that the men at Andersonville were suffering and requested to be exchanged:

"The privates received by me yesterday unite in describing the condition of their late comrades at Andersonville as being pitiful in the extreme. They state they are but half fed, that they are naked, suffering, sick, and dying." (August 17, 1864, The War of the Rebellion)

Sherman image from

Operating at Smaller Capacity and the End

When General Sherman was moving through Georgia, the Confederacy moved the majority of the prisoners to other camps. Andersonville then continued to house less men until the end of the war in April 1865. With the end of the war, there came the arrest of the prison commandant, Captain Henry Wirz. He was charged with "murder, in violation of the laws of war." After being tried and found guilty, he was hanged on November 10, 1865. There is a monument erected to him by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Unfortunately, there was suffering on both sides during the American Civil War. Neither a Union prisoner or a Confederate prisoner had an easy time of it as he awaited his release. It has been estimated that over 190,000 Northerners and almost 215,000 Southerners were captured and confined with over 30,000 Union and 26,000 Confederate prisoners dying during imprisonment. From poor conditions to poor administration, there were many reasons why hardships awaited the lives of the Civil War prisoner.

Looking for more about the American Civil War

Be sure to read my posts about Robert E. Lee, George B. McClellan, and Ulysses S. Grant. I have also shared information about several battles including Antietam and Gettysburg.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Book Club: Book Review of The Spice King

This post contains affiliate links. I received a free copy of The Spice King in return for my honest opinion. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

I know I have been writing this a lot in my book reviews but I am very glad that I had the chance to read The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden. The first book in a new series, Hope and Glory, is a fantastic work of historical fiction that brings to life Washington D.C. during the time period after the Spanish-American War. As a fan of historical novels, this book hit all the right notes for me.

The novel written by Elizabeth Camden, who is known for historical fiction set in the Gilded Age of America, follows the life of Gray Delacroix, the Spice King, and his family. We are also introduced to Annabelle Larkin who has recently moved to Washington D.C., with her sister Elaine, from Kansas. Annabelle has a temporary job at the Smithsonian Institution which brings her into contact with Gray. She is tasked with gaining access to Gray's private orchid collection and if she gains that access, to see a rare vanilla orchid that is believed to be extinct. Annabelle manages to ingratiate herself with Gray by bringing a whimsical world map of spices and the two very quickly start to fall in love. Gray opens his heart to Annabelle as he shows her his spice factory and his private greenhouses. We see her growing attraction to Gray even as she needs to look for evidence for the War Department to secure a permanent position in D.C. Why is it so important that she stays in D.C.? Her blind sister is working at the Library of Congress and relies upon Annabelle for assistance.

In addition to seeing the development of the characters of Gray and Annabelle, as readers we also learn of Gray's siblings – Caroline and Luke, the Talbots, the parents of Annabelle, and a rival business family. I really felt like I got to know each character through the descriptions and conversations written by Camden. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the adulterated food products, the debate about government regulation of food (and spices), and the First Lady, Ida McKinley (I want to go read more about her now!). For fans of historical fiction, I highly recommend The Spice King.

I really like books that make me want to read more about the topics introduced and discussed. I already had an understanding about the need for the Pure Food and Drug Act after studying another historical fiction novel set in the early 1900s but it was very interesting to see how manufacturers also attempted to scam customers and save money through the use of chemicals and spices. And with the description of Annabelle and Elaine trying different spices while making dinner I want to go and experiment with spices in my own kitchen. These are sure signs of a good book for me.

Who might enjoy this book? Readers who like historical fiction, Christian romance, cooking and baking, mystery and intrigue, and good triumphing over evil will find something to enjoy in The Spice King. It is a fast-paced novel written by a Christy and RITA Award-winning author. I recommend you take a look at it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Blogging Through the Alphabet Series Introduction

It is time for a new Blogging Through the Alphabet Series! If you are unfamiliar with what Blogging Through the Alphabet is, no worries, here is what our series is all about.

Several bloggers have joined together to host a link up for weekly blogs based upon a common theme: a specific letter of the alphabet each week. Sometimes individual bloggers have a theme for all 26 blog posts and other times they write about whatever strikes them as interesting for that letter and that week. In the past, A Mom's Quest to Teach has shared two series of Blogging Through the Alphabet posts with a history focus. A Net in Time's shared a series of posts regarding how to breed and raise rabbits (these are so interesting!). Others shared posts about places to visit in their state, children's books, or recipes.

 The Rules

  • Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it. 
  • When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares. 
  • Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up. 
  • Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
  • If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love. 
  • The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

What Does Blogging Through the Alphabet Series Mean to Me?

This series provides me with the opportunity to have at least one non-review post a week. I also get the opportunity to share my love of history with others. And I get to research new topics as I pick and choose what I would like to write about each week. For example, I may already have lots of information about the American Civil War and Egyptology, but when it came to writing my posts about China, I needed to do some research. This was fun for me. I love to research history topics. I hope you join me on my journey through history again this series. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wordless Wednesday: Our Homeschool

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

We are officially back to school! Here are some of the photos I took around our schooling rooms (which is mostly the living room and dining room) for a mostly Wordless Wednesday post.

We use our calendar to keep track of everything from trips to the library as well as when I will be sharing different reviews and blog posts. 

I love having this quote visible to me at all times when I am blogging and homeschooling.

I love having the map of the United States at the level of the kids so they can find states, cities, and bodies of water. 

I keep extra worksheets for our younger children to work on and complete when they are bored while one is working on the laptop in a file holder on the wall.

I am using this large canvas crate to hold our books and workbooks when we are not homeschooling. Each day I pull out the ones we need and place them on the dining room table for our schooling day. 

How do you organize your homeschool? 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Virtual Refrigerator Weekly Art Link Up: Sewing Kit

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

We would like to extend an invitation to you and your children to share their artwork created while homeschooling. Each month, we will host a link-up for you to share your posts about you or your children's art creation.

After you link up, please visit the other blogs and admire what they have shared from their fridges.

Learning to Sew

During the last week of August, we took a trip to the bookstore. In addition to buying several books for the kids, we also picked up a Minecraft workbook and a sewing kit. Our daughter was so excited to start working on the sewing kit.

My Simple Sewing 

This book and craft kit is from Klutz Jr and features three crafts that a child ages 4 and up can make with just a little bit of help from a parent. There are also two practice crafts included to help your child learn how to sew. Our daughter created a donut and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich to start. 


The first real sewing craft is the pizza pocket. It allows for lots of creativity and individualization as part of the materials include felt toppings of pepperoni, green pepper slices, mushrooms, and olives to accompany the eyes, mouth, and cheeks. 

Other Projects 

We have been working on one project every other day or so (depending on our schedule) so we still have two projects left: a cookie key chain and plush cupcake. Both of these crafts allow our daughter to be creative as she places the chocolate chips on the cookie and the sprinkles for the cupcake.

There are even some additional ideas listed at the end of the book for kids to create a dinosaur, a ladybug, and a watermelon from paper plates. These projects also include sewing so you can reuse the plastic needle that is included with the kit

My Thoughts 

All the materials (with a few exceptions) that children will need to complete the projects are included in the kit. This is fantastic for getting kids started right away! It would be a good kit to take on a long weekend or vacation for those rainy days when sightseeing or going to the pool isn't possible. 

We have been on the lookout for a simple sewing project for our children after we found one for $1 at the craft store. I love that our daughter can learn the basic skills necessary to sew with a safer plastic needle. Then we can move onto other sewing implements as she gets older. Now I just need to find a different kit for our son because he wants to join in, too. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Mastering Math Skills for First Grade: A Review of a Reading Eggs Workbook

Math is often an area that causes struggles for some children. Finding a good series of workbooks to assist children in mastering essential skills that also aligns with an online resource is fantastic! Last year we reviewed 200 Essential Math Skills for Kindergarten workbook from Reading Eggs that correlates to Mathseeds. This year our six-year-old son is reviewing 200 Essential Skills for First Grade and loving it! There are a series of 9 books from Reading Eggs that just might be perfect for your homeschool.

What are the Workbooks?

These workbooks are good whether or not you subscribe to the online learning programs of Reading Eggs and Mathseeds. We have been able to use them both with and without an online subscription. Right now, we are using the workbook in conjunction with Mathseeds. So, our son is able to fill in the information at the end of the lesson as he completes the activities online.

  • 240 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten 
  • 240 Essential Reading Skills for First Grade 
  • 200 Essential Reading Skills for Second Grade 
  • 200 Essential Reading Skills for Third Grade 
  • 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fourth Grade
  • 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade 
  • 200 Essential Math Skills for Kindergarten (We reviewed this last year.) 
  • 200 Essential Math Skills for First Grade (We are reviewing this workbook this year.) 
  • 200 Essential Math Skills for Second Grade 
The workbooks provide instruction in age-appropriate skills that will help your child succeed in reading or math depending upon which workbook your child uses. For example, in the 200 Essential Math Skills for Kindergarten our son (and now daughter*) reviewed and practiced recognizing numbers, shapes, geometry, addition, subtraction, and more. 

*Our son started the Kindergarten workbook half way with lesson 26 after working on Mathseeds online during our review last year. So, our daughter is completing the first half of it this year. 

The reading workbooks provide practice and review of grammar, literary skills, reading comprehension, spelling, and more. Just like the math workbooks, these workbooks have full-color pages and a yearly plan. 

What are the Key Features of the 200 Essential Math Skills for First Grade? 

The full-color, 260-page paperback workbook contains 50 lessons, 10 quizzes, 10 fun spots, 11 certificates, pages for the cut-out portions of several lessons, a year planner, and additional learning activities. The First Grade workbook picks up with Map 11 of Mathseeds and goes over many different mathematics skills. Some of these skills include:

  • Addition and subtraction
  • Telling time
  • Measurement: near, far, area, etc. 
  • Money 
  • Graphing 
  • Chance 
  • 2-D and 3-D Shapes 
The lessons include a variety of activities like drawing, labeling, matching, completing sentences, using number lines, cut and pasting pictures, and identifying correct geometric shapes, money, and fractions.

The maps line up with the online lessons and provide you with a plan for approaching the workbook. 

How Did We Use the Workbook in Our Homeschool? 

Our six-year-old son will complete part of or an entire lesson each day. He then spends some time on Mathseeds to see what pet is hatching out of the acorn (which we record in the workbook). He also goes through and completes some of the driving tests which are recommended in the workbook. These help him practice the skills reviewing in the lesson.

I am also having our daughter complete the early lessons from the Kindergarten book that were too easy for our son least year. This works out rather nicely as they are both working in their workbooks at the same time and—because the lessons are similar in their set up—it is very easy for me to oversee and assist them as needed. I would recommend using the workbooks across the ages if you have children of multiple ages or skill levels.

The kindergarten workbook featured addition which our son completed last year.

The first grade workbook incorporated additional ways to show addition and subtraction.

The online learning resource of Mathseeds is a wonderful program to use either alone or—even better—with the workbook! It is fantastic to go to the computer and have our son complete the appropriate lesson online after he has completed the assignments in the workbook. There are multiple activities for each online lesson including different games to help review the concept.

Once a student completes a lesson, it is unlocked and available to replay.

One of the Mathseeds activities asks the student to cut the apple pieces in half.

Mathseeds also has portions that are more game-like such as the 'play' section. Our son likes measuring out liquids and creating shapes (plus decorating his treehouse using acorns to purchase new items).

In addition to using the online math component of Mathseeds (ages 3-9), our son has also discovered he really likes Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13). He enjoys reading the books and collecting trading cards and is excelling at working on reading comprehension and learning about themes, plots, and grammar.

Our son just can't stop working on Reading Eggspress. 

Additional Opportunities for Learning 

We incorporated one of the learning activities suggested in the beginning of the book so far: money. I gathered up our play money and the kids reviewed the values and names. They then set up a shop and pretend to sell items back and forth. Learning about money is a very important real world skill and I am glad that 200 Essential Skills for First Grade covers it. 

There are a variety of learning activities listed in the front of the book.

As we are working on money skills, we used a set that was gifted to our son to play shop.
Our son is looking forward to the different lessons on money.

Our Thoughts 

I really like how the workbooks are organized. They are printed on thick paper which means minimal tearing. The text is large enough to read and the spaces are just the right size for the answers. I find the directions to be clear and uncluttered. So far, none of the assignments seems too difficult. Our son can complete most of the work on his own.

Our six-year-old son likes doing the coloring and matching sections. He says the workbook "really helps children with their shapes" and "it also teaches you about colors, time, and where things are. The computer and the workbook teaches you about doubles." He also enjoys doing the fun spot pages and likes when I fill out the certificates.

I asked our son what part in the workbook he is looking forward to working on in the future. He showed me Lesson 76 where students will work with the equals sign. The lesson will ask him to write out addition problems and complete them as well as figure out if sums are equal or not. This particular lesson incorporates dice, dominoes, and even money to figure out if sums are equal.

I recommend the workbooks from Reading Eggs. They are bright and colorful and full of interesting lessons for children. It will be very easy for our son to continue using 200 Essential Math Skills for First Grade during the rest of the homeschool year.

Want to Learn More About Reading Eggs? 

Website – Facebook – Twitter – Pinterest – Instagram 

Do You Want to Try Reading Eggs for Your Family? 

Just in time for Back to School: Sign up today and watch your child become a stronger reader this Back-to-School season! 

A multi-award winning online learning program for children ages 2–13, Reading Eggs supports the essential foundations of reading with its highly engaging lessons, games, and e-books!

Learn to Read in 4 Weeks for FREE

If you want to see how other homeschooling families use either the math workbooks or the reading ones, be sure to check out the reviews