Monday, May 3, 2021

Turning to God During Times of Change

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; floral clipart; Turning to God During Times of Change

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

Our household has been going through a lot of changes over the past two years. Originally, what was going to be a brief stay by my mom has turned into a permanent one. We discovered that her health no longer allowed her to live in my childhood home. We are now trying to empty the house and sell it. Add in the crazy events of 2020, my husband losing his job, a refrigerator that took forever to be replaced, and more, and I often find myself questioning why. A lot.

I have been turning to God – trying to walk with Him and hand my problems over to Him. But it is not easy. I like control. I do not like change, and that is what the past two years have been – each and every moment. Nothing but change after change. How can I be a wife, homeschool mom, daughter, and more amidst all this change? I feel my life falling apart. 

In some ways, 2020 was a blessing for our family. It kept my mom home. I did not have to worry about her driving. We did not have to make the decision who would stay home with my mom too often as there was no place to really go as a family. With my husband being home, we were able to help and support each other as a family. But I still question why and what I am going to do each day. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; net background; Turning to God During Times of Change

While relaxing before bedtime one evening, I picked up the Spring 2021 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and flipped through it to look at the ads. I was looking for a few ideas to spark my inspiration for our next homeschool year. And as I work for The Old Schoolhouse®, I also like to see support the companies that advertise with them. What caught my attention was one article in particular and not an ad. 

I stopped to read "Ten Ways to Homeschool Through Trials" by Kerry Tittle. I found myself struggling to push through all the tasks I must complete, so reading an article that laid out ten points to remember during trials was something I felt would be most helpful. What I didn't realize was that I would be humbled and reminded that there are trials of varying degrees. Kerry Tittle faced a huge change in her life – much more dramatic than that of our own family, but she has given me inspiration. The article reminded me to "count it all joy" and praise God even in the trials. She is right – there is a bigger picture – and, as my husband has reminded me, perhaps He placed my mom in our house for a reason only He understands. 

I hope – I pray – every day that I am strong enough with God's help to live in the midst of trials. I want to demonstrate grace, patience, and love to our children. Sometimes God knows just how to reach us. That evening it was through an excellent article in the Spring 2021 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: D is for Devil's Den

photo of Devil's Den Gettysburg NMP

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

If you have studied the Battle of Gettysburg or visited the National Military Park, you may be familiar with the area known as Devil's Den. But why is it called by this name? Where specifically is it located? What lore is associated with this place before and after the American Civil War? 

There is little evidence to suggest that the area known today as the Devil's Den was known by that name prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. There are several places where it is referenced as such after the battle, including: 

  • In the official report of Captain James F. Smith of the 4th Independent Battery
  • By Francis M. Stake, who was stationed at Camp Letterman General Hospital after the battle 
  • And by historian John Bachelder 

Why Is It Called Devil's Den? 


The very appearance of the place could be the reason why people gave it that nickname. It is wild and rocky and appears desolate and sinister. There are a host of reptiles, including snakes that live in dens among the rocks. There is even a story of one large snake named Devil, who lived among the rocks. Keep in mind, though, that local residents have refuted that it was called Devil's Den prior to the battle. 


photo of Devil's Den Gettysburg NMP



Where Is Devil's Den? 


There has been much discussion over the years as to the specific location. Was it the boulders, a cave or cavern, the outcroppings of the rocks, or the spring? 

Memories Formed About Devil's Den 


The naming and exact location matter little in the formation of memories after the battle. On the evening of July 2, 1862, there were blood-stained boulders in the area. The Army of the Potomac and the Confederates fought to gain control of the area during the day, and in the evening, the bodies of American men – both dead and dying – were amongst these giant rocks. There was death and suffering in the area. 

After the Battle of Gettysburg was over, the people visiting Devil's Den on July 4, 1863, found many "Rebel" sharpshooters among the rocks - forever holding their rifles but shooting no more. Many were given burial near the Den due to the nature of their bodies' decomposition. If one visits the area today, you can probably imagine the many locations that might have provided coverage for a brief time for these sharpshooters. 

There are many interesting points and facts about Devil's Den. Among the many rocks, there are carvings from the early years after the American Civil War, and sometimes there is even modern vandalism that needs to be cleaned and removed. Visitors may leave trash, stack small rocks, or leave behind graffiti. As the Park Service is attempting to keep the area as close to what it was like in 1863, it is sad to see the remains of modern visitors.

In addition to the physical memories, there are also some false ones associated with Devil's Den. There is a famous photograph known as "The Dead Sharpshooter." This famous image is often printed in history books but without the notation that the Confederate soldier was not killed - did not die - at that spot in the photograph. He was killed about 70 yards away and was moved by the photographer. The photographer created a stunning but fake picture of a "Rebel" sharpshooter by manipulating the truth.

When visiting Gettysburg, I always enjoy spending time visiting Devil's Den. You can see the daring as they try to climb over all the rocks and boulders, as well as those who are reading the various carvings in the rocks. And if you are lucky, you can find a quiet spot to reflect upon those who died in that location fighting for their country.  

photo of Devil's Den Gettysburg NMP


Do You Want to Learn More About the American Civil War? 


Read more about the Battle of Gettysburg in this Blogging Through the Alphabet Post

If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no charge to you.


 

If you want to join Blogging Through the Alphabet, please visit: 
 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: C is for Civil War Books

 A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; Blogging Through the Alphabet: C is for Civil War Books

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

There are so many books to choose from if you wish to read more about the American Civil War. You could start with The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (all 127 volumes!), also called Official Records (OR), to read primary source material and then jump into history books, biographies, fictional books, edited diaries, compilations of weird but true stories, and more! What are a few books about the American Civil War that sit on my bookshelf? First, let me admit that I have not read through each book I am going to share with you. To pick which ones I wanted to share, I simply took a handful off the shelves, snapped a few photos, and dug into the books. 

This is a small sampling of the books one can read to learn more about the American Civil War. You could narrow down your approach to picking books if you wanted to specialize in one topic or another. For example, you could research and read books that only discuss slavery, the 13th-15th Amendments, Northern or Southern generals, one specific battle, one specific regiment, or other topics. When it comes to studying history, there are so many wonderful options. 


Sickles The Incredible by W. A. Swanberg  book cover


Sickles The Incredible by W. A. Swanberg 

"A problem child for all his 94 years" -- "A diplomat who insulted Queen Victoria" -- "The genius who smashed Jay Gould's railroad conspiracy" -- from the back of the book describing Daniel Sickles 

Daniel Sickles was usually surrounded by gossip. Before his nomination for brigadier general, he found out that some felt he would march his brigade to Jefferson Davis' side. So, he went out to win over the opposition. Sickles always put his whole heart into any project. 

Any purchases you make through links to the books may provide me with a small commission at no cost to you.

The Preacher's Tale: The Civil War Journal of Rev. Francis Springer, Chaplain, U.S. Army of the Frontier edited by William Furry  book cover


The Preacher's Tale: The Civil War Journal of Rev. Francis Springer, Chaplain, U.S. Army of the Frontier edited by William Furry 

Reverend Francis Springer served in Arkansas during the American Civil War and through to the beginning of Reconstruction. In this book, Springer not only wrote about the events but also reflected upon them. This is extremely helpful as it helps people understand life as it was during the time period the journal or diary was written. For example, On November 7, 1863, at Fort Smith in Arkansas, he wrote of "The Two Societies." He explained that Civil Society was one where men were at home with their family, and everything was subject to their own will and desire. Military Society was one in which the men were not free to do what they wanted. There was always the "clatter of arms, rumbling of wagons, the roll of the drum" that was the background noise to their loss of freedom (95).

Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields: Discovering America's Hallowed Ground 

You may recognize the name, Jeff Shaara. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, which complete the trilogy his father, Michael Shaara, began with The Killer Angels. With these books, father and son bring the history of the American Civil War to life. With this book, readers will learn tidbits of history they might not be familiar with, may find conclusions they disagree with, and help you take away "something enormously valuable" when you visit these sites. 

The book looks at the following battles (to learn about the battles, please click through the links): 

Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields: Discovering America's Hallowed Ground book cover


Two More Books 


I also want to briefly mention two more books from two individuals whose works can found on multiple shelves in my home. James M. McPherson, who I have referenced and quoted previously, wrote Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam to describe the events that led up to this pivotal battle on September 17, 1862, the battle itself, and its aftermath. If you are interested in the American Civil War, McPherson has a variety of books that might suit your needs. 

The Second Day at Gettysburg is a series of essays on Confederate and Union Leadership edited by Gary W. Gallagher. If you are looking to dive into one specific day, it is always interesting to find books and essays on Civil War battles. Part of the reason why I picked up this book is that I read the letters of a Civil War soldier from Pennsylvania who died on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The other reason is that I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture series by Professor Gallagher on the American Civil War and other works he has authored and edited. 

As a student and teacher of history, I love delving into all the different aspects of different time periods. Looking at the military events, famous and not-famous individuals, the locations of the battles, and specific battle details hour by hour is very enjoyable and educating. I love flipping to the end of many of these books and reading through the endnotes to discover more books to read. There is so much to learn! 

 


If you want to join Blogging Through the Alphabet, please visit: 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: B is for Billy Yank

Blogging Through the Alphabet B is for Billy Yank, background photo of cannon; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo


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

When it comes to nicknames, the American Civil War has provided many: 

  • Johnny Reb
  • Rebel Yell
  • "Stonewall" Jackson
  • Honest Abe 
  • "Lee's War Horse"
  • Little Mac 
But one that may have been added after the Civil War was the term, Billy Yank. And it probably gained popularity with a classic Civil War history, The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union by Bell Irwin Wiley. He had already written a book about Johnny Reb and wanted to pen a companion piece. As Wiley stated, "The two were so much alike that the task of giving this book a flavor and character distinct from The Life of Johnny Reb has at times been a difficult one" (13). 

In What Ways Were the Two Soldiers Who Fought for Different Causes Similar? 


  • Pride in themselves and their families 
  • Sense of duty 
  • Will and strength to endure
  • Devotion to country 
  • Devotion to the cause 

What was unique about Billy Yank? 


  • Devotion to Abraham Lincoln
  • Devotion to McClellan
  • Deep patriotism 
  • Joined because of the example of friends and family 
  • Antislavery urge – abolitionism 


book cover of The Life of Billy Yank


Who Were the Billy Yanks? Who Wore the Blue Uniform? 


The men of the Union Army were very diverse. Among the Union soldiers, there were people of various nationalities, races, creeds, and occupations. Different religious denominations were represented, and the age range was quite large. Very young boys would sign up as drummer boys, and men like John Burns from Gettysburg would help fight for the North. We may never know the exact ages of all the Yanks as they often listed their ages as 18 and up – even if they were younger – so they could enlist. 

When Wiley investigated 123 company rolls, he created a list of over 300 occupations. What an amazing and varied group of talented men gathered together for a common cause. And the occupations of some of these Billy Yanks included: 

  • Barkeepers 
  • Chemists
  • Grocers 
  • Iron workers 
  • Miners 
  • Pianists 
But the most numerous group? Farmers. 

This diversity in the Union Army meant that they were able to fulfill needs – like print official papers, re-lay railroad rails, and provide entertainment – in between the battles and more. They were resourceful.

Blogging Through the Alphabet: B is for Billy Yank; A Mom's Quest to Teach; background of school clip art and clip art of Union Drummer boy from wpclipart.com


Where Were They From? 


While Billy Yank fought for the North, his ancestors (and perhaps himself) were from one of many nations. The majority were Americans. There were regiments made up of solely different ethnic groups like those in New York made up of Germans or Irish or the 15th Wisconsin made up of Scandinavians. And while the Union Army was mostly white, there were 186,017 African Americans on the Federal muster rolls and a brigade of Native Americans in the Indian Home Guard.

The men in blue were a mix of weak and strong men who were sometimes less prepared than other days. They were proud to defend their nation but were also scared at times. I don't think Billy Yank is much different than the men at uniform in any time or place.

If you want to join Blogging Through the Alphabet, please visit: 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of My Dear Miss Dupré

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; Book Club: Book Review of My Dear Miss Dupré; floral background

I received a COMPLIMENTARY copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

I enjoy reading historical fiction, so it was natural to read and review My Dear Miss Dupré by Grace Hitchcock. It is the first book in the American Royalty series where we meet the Dupré family and those who are part of the 1880s Four Hundred in New York City. 

"Thirty suitors, six months of courting...would it be enough time for her to fall in love?" 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Review of My Dear Miss Dupré; cover of the book


The 358-page paperback book opens on New Year's Eve in 1882 with Willow Dupré ice skating. We quickly meet one of Willow's suitors - Friedrich Blythe - and learn of her parents' plans to hold a competition to help Willow pick a husband. Willow had no knowledge of this competition until she saw Mr. Blythe's invitation. The idea behind the competition is to find Willow a husband to help her manage the Dupré sugar industry. Even though she had trained alongside her father to manage and eventually take over, the shareholders do not want her running the business without a husband – a man – by her side.

Throughout the book, we meet Willow's 30 suitors, those involved with the sugar business, and others. Do not think this is a book just about romance. There is also cooperate espionage as a sugar competitor attempts to push the Dupré's out of business. And to complicate matters, there is intrigue among the suitors as one is a spy for that competitor, one is leaking information to the press, and one is even more dangerous. 

I have mixed feelings about My Dear Miss Dupré. I enjoyed parts of the book immensely. I found, with only about 80 pages left, I couldn't put the book down. I even think the story would translate well to the silver screen but I struggled with the book at times. I would still recommend My Dear Miss Dupré because I think it is a good book. I look forward to the next in the series. I am very curious to see if it will be about Willow's good friend, Flora. So if you like Christian historical romance, please check out My Dear Miss Dupré

Cover of My Dear Miss Dupré


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: A is for Andersonville in History and Fiction

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; photograph of cannon; Blogging Through the Alphabet: A is for Andersonville in History and Fiction

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

In the history of the American Civil War, there are many horrors that can be shared. From children who lost fathers to fathers who never really came home due to experiences at prisons like Andersonville, life was difficult during and after the Civil War. While reading a recent work of fiction, I was introduced to the idea that the Union soldiers who survived their time at Andersonville may have come home with unseen wounds. 

What was life like at Andersonville? 

The daily life at Andersonville was one of monotony. The men were responsible for constructing a place to live, trying to keep their clothing, and maintaining some level of cleanliness to stave off illnesses that were always knocking at the door. When they weren't trying to keep themselves safe, clean, and fed, they would talk of potential freedom, the food they missed, the nature of the weather, and their health (or lack of health). And, of course, they spoke about the reports from the field of battle.


clipart of Andersonville from wpclipart.com
from wpclipart.com


I may earn a commission through the links provided.  

How does Fiction tie into Andersonville? 

I recently read and reviewed the second in the Windy City Saga by Jocelyn Green – Shadows of the White City. As I enjoyed this book set during the Colombian Expedition, I read the first book in the series – Veiled in Smoke. In this work of Christian fiction, Meg and Sylvie Townsend try to take care of their father, Stephen, who is a Civil War veteran who spent time as a prisoner in Andersonville. He returns home after the war a changed man. 

I must admit to never really thinking about how the men who suffered in Civil War prison camps would fare at the end of the Civil War. It only makes sense – after reading Veiled in Smoke – that some of the men would suffer PTSD, which was referred to as 'soldier's heart.' 

In this fictional account, Stephen builds a replica of Andersonville in their backyard, patrols the rooftops of their building with his gun, and cannot bear the affectionate touches of his daughters. He eventually finds himself in an asylum where doctors attempt to treat him for 'soldier's heart.' After a small bit of research, I found the post-war asylums housed many veterans who raged and exhibited peculiar behaviors. Others were documented to see people that they saw die either during battle or, like the fictional Stephen, see the men they could not save in the prisons. 

Prisons like Andersonville, Libby, and Elmira caused problems for the men while they were imprisoned and also continued to haunt them after the Civil War ended. How sad are the devastating effects of war!


photograph of cannon; Blogging Through the Alphabet: A is for Andersonville in History and Fiction


To read more about Andersonville, please check out my post from 2019: A is for Andersonville.

If you would like to join the Blogging Through the Alphabet link-up, please follow these rules: 

  • Your post must be family-friendly. We have the right to remove any posts that are inappropriate.
  • When linking up, you agree to give us permission to share your post or a photo in any future blog posts and social media shares.
  • Please link back to the host's or co-host's blog, and (if you want) use the image.
  • If you can, check out a few other posts in the link-up and leave some comment love.
  • Please make sure your posts relate to the alphabet or blogging through the alphabet in some way.
  • The link-up will be available for one week for each letter.
  • Last of all, have fun. If you can't join for one week, don't stress. Just join next time, and enjoy!
Visit the co-hosts to link up: 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet 2021 Series Introduction

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 2021 Series Introduction; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; background photo of cannon

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

After a bit of a hiatus, I am participating in another Blogging Through the Alphabet series on A Mom's Quest to Teach. After I finished my series on the American Civil War with Z is for Zouaves, I deliberated about what topic or theme I would like to do next. At one time, I thought about writing about World War I or crafts for children's books. But, since I have found myself very busy of late due to work, homeschooling, and family obligations, I decided to stick to one of my favorite subjects. I will be writing another series on the American Civil War.

For this series, I already have some topic ideas including: 

  • Billy Yank and Johnny Reb (thanks to the books by Bell I. Wiley) as inspiration 
  • Devil's Den 
  • Harriet Tubman 
  • Frederick Douglass 
  • Vicksburg 
  • Andrew Johnson 
  • North Star 
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin 
  • Chancellorsville 
These are just some ideas after looking at my bookshelf and flipping through a really neat book the Homeschool Review Crew is reviewing - Famous Figures of the Civil War from Figures in Motion. I still have not narrowed down my list except for the first two posts, which I have in draft form.

Blogging Through the Alphabet 2021 Series Introduction ; cannon background photograph


As a former high school history teacher, I never really got to spend what I consider adequate time teaching the American Civil War. Where I taught, the United States history courses were split into two years. In the first year, the students studied from the founding of America to the end of the American Civil War. In the second year, US History II, students studied from the Reconstruction to the present day (or as far as you could reach by June).  This basically meant that the Civil War was jammed in at the end of US History I. I felt lucky to spend a few weeks on it before we had to prepare for finals.

Just like with any event in history, there is so much that one can study. You can spend a lifetime studying the American Civil War and probably never learn everything. I hope that through this Blogging Through the Alphabet series, I will introduce you to some new individuals and share some new facts. Thank you for joining us on this journey. 

Blogging Through the Alphabet; letters a to z; join us here each week as we work our way through the alphabet



If you would like to join the Blogging Through the Alphabet link-up, please follow these rules: 

  • Your post must be family-friendly. We have the right to remove any posts that are inappropriate.
  • When linking up, you agree to give us permission to share your post or a photo in any future blog posts and social media shares.
  • Please link back to the host's or co-host's blog, and (if you want) use the image.
  • If you can, check out a few other posts in the link-up and leave some comment love.
  • Please make sure your posts relate to the alphabet or blogging through the alphabet in some way.
  • The link-up will be available for one week for each letter.
  • Last of all, have fun. If you can't join for one week, don't stress. Just join next time, and enjoy!
Visit the co-hosts to link up: 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of Flooded

Book Club: Book Review of Flooded; wavy clip art background; A Mom's Ques to Teach Logo

I received a FREE copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Sometimes a book ends up proving to be more impactful than you thought it might be when you first read the title and description. This was the case for me when I began reading Flooded: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life is Hard and Doubt is Rising by Nicki Koziarz. My original reason behind selecting Flooded to read and review was because I was interested in reading more about Noah. I had no idea that the book would have so many relatable applications to my present-day life. 

In the 197-page paperback book, Nicki Koziarz presents five lessons we can learn from Noah and his interactions with God. When our hearts are heavy and there are difficult circumstances we must navigate, doubt enters our lives. Koziarz shares her own personal situations, which led to hopelessness and doubt, and presents five decisions we can make to help push doubt aside. I really appreciate Koziarz's openness in sharing both funny moments (like the escapes of their farm animals) and difficult moments (like the suicide of her brother). An author who is open and honest is most welcoming on a journey to self-improvement.


Book cover of Flooded


Content and Organization of Flooded 

Flooded is divided into five sections, with each focusing upon a different decision. 

  1. To Walk with God 
  2. To Listen to God 
  3. To Rise Above the Doubt 
  4. To Remember Who is in Charge 
  5. To Find the Familiar Faithfulness of God 
These units are then divided into three chapters each. This division makes for easy reading. Readers would probably skip around the book to read just the section they are interested in, but I think there is more value in reading Flooded from cover to cover. This is especially true as we follow the story of Noah from before the building of the Ark to the time when the land was dry and ready for Noah, his family, and the animals. 

"God's in charge of the plan; I'm in control of my obedience." Flooded by Nicki Koziarz; wavy clipart background; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo


What Did I Think? 


From the appealing cover of Flooded to the heartfelt and honest stories shared by the author, I enjoyed reading this book. I personally struggle with doubt, so tools to help overcome that monster are most welcome. I appreciated that Koziarz spoke to the fact "a large portion of our world believes in God but does not consider the Bible absolute truth" (47) and shared the truth that not much has actually changed in the hearts of humans since the days of Noah. 

As someone who likes to know what is going to happen, to be in control, I enjoyed reading the reminder that we must let go and trust God. Even just the second decision, listening to God, can be difficult because "we don't know exactly where we're going" (60). It is not easy to remember that God knows what He is doing even we do not know. I find myself needing this reminder daily as I take care of my mom, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I need to put my trust in God, who is the one who is in charge. Much like the author, I find myself whispering, "Please, God, no more hard things" (107). 

I would recommend Flooded to those who are seeking help in a world of doubt. There is so much we can learn from the life of Noah, even though his story may seem small in the Bible. We know he came from a long line of faithful-to-God men, was married with three sons, a farmer, and preached. Most of us today are probably not that different from Noah. Hopefully, through reading Flooded, we can rise above doubt and find the familiar faithfulness in God. 

Book Club: Book Review of Flooded; A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of Flooded


Monday, March 29, 2021

Book Club: Review of The Indebted Earl

 Book Club: Review of The Indebted Earl; sailboat clip art; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

I received a COMPLIMENTARY copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

I had the privilege of reading and reviewing the first two books in the Serendipity & Secrets series. So, I was very excited when I was chosen to read and review The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch. This Christian Regency romance picks up the story of Lady Sophia Haverly, whose brother was the focus of the second book, The Gentleman Spy, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. We find our second main character in a military hospital in Portugal, and his life quickly becomes entwined with Sophie even though they have not met.

The three books in the Serendipity & Secrets series

In all three books, we read about strong female characters and male characters who have expected challenges thrust upon them by circumstances. Throughout all the difficulties in the books, the characters do seek the strength that God provides them – even the darkest moments. Sophie loses her fiancé, finds herself thrown out of the home she had recently grown to love, and finds herself in love with three orphaned girls who are wards of the new Earl of Rothwell. When trying to decide what to do, Sophie pours out her heart to God and feels at peace knowing everything would be up to God. 

For the majority of The Indebted Earl, Captain Charles Wyvern, the new Earl of Rothwell, finds himself struggling with decisions. He promised Sophie's fiancé, Major Richardson, that he would look after Sophie's needs. How far should he go? Dare he allow his love for her to blossom? Would that be dishonoring the man who had saved his own life? Will he be able to personally care for his new wards, three orphaned girls, or will he send them away to a boarding school? Charles desperately wants to return to sea as a captain of a new ship but with the end of the war, this is not seeming like a possibility. But there are problems that pop up as Charles is offered a new commission: 

  • He has fallen in love with Sophie
  • He wants to take care of the three girls, and they are taking a liking to him 
  • He wants to do right by his new home and land
  • He is arrested on the suspicion of smuggling

"The Lord works in mysterious ways" Which was a phrase Mother only used when she felt the Lords way lined up with hers quote. Cover of The Indebted Earl; ericavetsch.com


What Do I Think? 


I really enjoyed The Indebted Earl. To be honest, this was my favorite of the three books. I enjoyed the strength of Sophie as she stood up for her fiancé's mother, Lady Mamie Richardson, on numerous occasions. As Lady Richardson struggles with memory problems, I loved reading of the change that took place in her under Sophie's care and the love of the three orphaned girls – Penelope, Dorothea, and Elizabeth Pembroke. Her love of both her deceased fiancé and her new husband is beautiful as both loves are completely different. I find Sophie – and all the characters – to be very real. 

Can I admit at times I wanted to smack Charles? How could he not see that Sophie loved him? But we wouldn't have a wonderful book by Erica Vetsch if there wasn't tension between the main characters. I was very pleased that Charles was trying to find the best solution to take care of all his new responsibilities, even while he was trying to still pursue his own dreams. And like so many times in life – both real and in fiction – love changes the dreams that people have for themselves.

Text: Book Club: Book Review of The Indebted Earl; book cover of The Indebted Earl


I would recommend The Indebted Earl. Is it necessary to read the books in order? I think you could probably read them out of order and still really enjoy them. The books are connected by the characters in each book but the stories are separate even though they all take place during the Regency period of English history. There are some events that will be given away if you read them out of order but you will still enjoy them. 

If you enjoy Christian fiction, Christian Romance, Regency fiction, or historical fiction, then The Indebted Earl is one that I would recommend you add to your to-read list. The romance that blossoms between Sophie and Charles is endearing as it grows. And their open arms for the three orphaned girls are encouraging that even when there are awful occurrences, sometimes things work about for the best.



Enter to win March 23 - April 20; The Indebted Earl on a kindle; contest


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Crafts: V is for Vacation

 Crafts: V is for Vacation; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; background vacation clipart

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

Learning the letters is such an important step for our children. Creating fun ways to reinforce their memory of the letters is one way we as parents can help them on their journey to become well-educated citizens. In this craft, our children used scrapbooking pictures to decorate the letter V to represent an imaginary vacation trip. 

Materials 

Steps

1. Gather all your materials.

scissors, construction paper, glue stick, scrapbook paper


2. Either pre-cut the necessary components or have your children cut the letter and pieces you will need to include on your craft. 

3. Glue the letter onto the construction paper. 

gluing on the letter v

4. Ask your children to pick out the images they will use on their craft. 

scrapbook paper images of trains, planes, suitcases

5. Glue the vacation images onto the letter. 

gluing scrapbook travel images onto a large letter v


6. Display the craft when the glue is dry. 

Crafts V is for Vacation A Mom's Quest to Teach; V craft; suitcase clip art


You can easily tie this craft into a discussion of an upcoming vacation or looking through vacation photographs from the previous year or years. This V is for Vacation craft could also be used as part of a geography lesson where children would pick images from a specific country to place on their letter rather than just vacation-themed ones.  Personally, we love the geography lessons from Let's Go Geography which we reviewed in 2020. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Crafts: Penguin Paper Bag Puppet

Crafts: Penguin Paper Bag Puppet; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; clip art penguin background

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

After reading Tacky the Penguin as part of our daughter's kindergarten curriculum from My Father's World, I couldn't help but want to make new paper bag puppets with our children. Our children love making paper bag puppets such as a shark or even Wonder Woman. So, they were very excited to see this new craft endeavor.

Facts About Penguins 

  • Flightless bird 
  • Penguins all live on the southern half of the earth - around Antarctica, New Zealand, along the coast of part of South American, Africa, and Australia 
  • Largest penguins are the Emperor Penguin – they can grow up to 3-1/2 feet tall and weigh more than 90 pounds
  • Smallest Penguins are the Little Blue Penguin – they can grow to about 16 inches tall and weigh less than 2-1/5 pounds
  • Penguins feathers are small and tightly packed together which aid them in swimming 
  • The colors of the penguin – black and white – help it camouflage in the water – the dark top blends in with the dark of the ocean and the white belly blends in with the sky when predators look up underneath it towards the ocean surface 

Crafts: Penguin Paper Bag Puppet; A Mom's Quest to Teach; Penguin craft photo


Crafting the Penguin Puppet 

Materials 

Steps 


1. Gather all your materials. 

2. Paint or color the paper bag using your preferred method. We used Kwik Stix Paint Sticks to paint the paper bags because the paint would dry quickly and allow us to move on to the next step. 

painting a paper bag pink

3. After you have cut out all the pieces for the penguin, you are ready to start attaching the different pieces of construction paper. 

4. Glue on the body or chest of the penguin.

putting glue on white body piece of paper bag puppet penguin

5. Attach the wings to the penguin. 

gluing the wings of the paper bag puppet penguin

6. Attach the feet to the penguin. 

paper bag penguin puppet with wings, belly, and feet

7. Complete the penguin's face with the eyes and beak. 

Penguin paper bag puppet completed

8. After all the pieces have dried, the penguin puppet is ready for a puppet show.