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MathScore, EduFighter, and our Family

We have used MathScore off and on for years, and now we have also tried out its new game EduFighter.  As I wrote in an earlier review,

MathScore is a drill program that’s all about math, instead of being mathematical entertainment.  Entertainment is fine in its place, but a good, solid math drill program that goes from 1+1=2 right up to quadratic equations is worth its weight in gold.  Rather than flashy fun, MathScore has a simple military rank reward system that provides exactly the right amount of motivation.  This program is a very good fit for our family.  

In most respects MathScore is still the same effective, no-frills way to help your children achieve mastery in over 200 topics from grade 1 through Algebra 1.  It still has excellent parental reporting.  It still has modest pricing and the wonderful account-freeze feature I described long ago.

EduFighter

There is a new feature, though:  MathScore has added EduFighter, a solo or team game focused on taking down an enemy ship….

To find out more about EduFighter, how my three girls liked it, and how MathScore benefited us last year, you can read my review over at The Curriculum Choice.

Disclosure:  I was given free access to MathScore and EduFighter in order to prepare this review.

Review: Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

Home-to-Chicory-Lane

Landyn, married less than six months, runs back to her parents’ place with a U-Haul in tow, crashing the opening celebrations of her parents’ new bed and breakfast, Chicory Inn.  Her parents, Audrey and Grant, are stretched to the limit financially and emotionally by Audrey’s dream of an inn.  Her husband Chase, a fairly new Christian, stumbles through the interrelated challenges of working with his artistic talents, leading his new family, and obeying God.

Author Deborah Raney has woven a compelling story of these four people and God, and all that happens as Landyn matures and Chase grows into his role.

Long road trips, wonderful siblings, hilarious communication mistakes, an art agent, a devastating storm, and much more combine to make Home to Chicory Lane a memorable novel.  The most memorable aspects, though, are the deep love of Audrey and Grant for each other and their children, the growth of both Landyn and Chase, and the relationship between the two couples.

Beyond the exciting story, this novel  talks about many different kinds of relationships: those involving husband and wife, parents and children, siblings, in-laws, mentors, grandparents, and especially Christians and God.  It is both fun and insightful and I am very glad I read it.

After posting my review I read a review from a man’s perspective.  He pointed out that because portions of the book is written from Chase’s point of view, it is definitely interesting to men as well and could be given to newly-weds to help them understand marriage, whether or not they have problems.

A giveaway celebrating this new series is available below.

This is yet another book in the in the 2014 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Works for Me Wednesdays, Booknificent Thursdays, and  Raising Homemakers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from LitFuse.  My opinions are my own and I and am not compensated for this review in any way.

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Home to Chicory Lane Deborah Raney
“The first book in Deborah Raney‘s new Chicory Inn series, Home to Chicory Lane, introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years.”  In this first book we see that Landyn is not quite ready to stay out of the nest.  Landyn’s siblings are an interesting bunch, too, and I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

“Deborah is celebrating the release of her new Chicory Inn series with a $200 B&B Weekend Getaway and a Facebook author chat party.”  For more information and to enter the giveaway, click on the picture above.

6 Tips for a Successful School Year

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Dressed up with flowers for a new year.

Here we are, at the beginning of another school year.  We have sharpened our pencils, worked out our plans, and dreamt our dreams.  We are as prepared as possible to meet our goals but, as usual, God may have different plans.

Here are 6 tips that will make the year a success no matter what happens to our plans:

Regularly read the Bible and pray.  In our family we read a short portion of the Bible after every meal and we also pray before and after meals.  There are many other ways of making devotions work for your family, but the most important thing is to make this your top priority, both personally and as a family.

Take good care of your bodies.  Make sure you and your children eat well, are active, rest enough, and spend time outside.  These are not optional for a successful school year because they contribute to learning, memory, and creativity as well as to health.

When it is time to work, work diligently.  Have your books, pencils, and other supplies available so your family does not waste time looking for things instead of learning.  If you’re a person who plans, have your plans up to date; if you prefer to go with the flow, ensure you are full of zest for whatever learning will come up.

Adjust your homeschool plans and goals if they are not working.  Sometimes life happens, or we have made foolish plans.  On the other hand, just because you’re going through a rough patch may not mean you need to change plans or curriculum.  It takes wisdom to know when to change and when not to.

Simplify your home chores and teach your children how to do them.  This will make your home more pleasant and your meals more nutritious.  It will also prepare your children for adult responsibilities. Learning basic living skills has great benefits throughout life.

Be grateful to God for whatever he sends you, love each other, and smile.  Yes, sometimes God sends hard things, but they are for our good.  Yes, sometimes we get frustrated with each other, but that’s an opportunity to learn to forgive, accept forgiveness, and restore our relationships.  Yes, sometimes it is hard to smile, but it means a lot to the people around us if we moms go through our days joyfully.

If we remember these 6 simple ideas and work on them every day, our year will be successful in the ways that matter most.  May God bless our families in the upcoming school year.

Review: John Owen by Simonetta Carr

John Owen teaching his catechism to a family of parishioners

John Owen teaching his catechism to a family of parishioners

The English civil war was a complicated time of tragic events and fascinating historical figures.  One of the most peaceful and appealing of these historical figures was John Owen, a brilliant Puritan theologian who was respected by both kings and commoners.  He was beloved because of his godliness, kindness, and great wisdom.

In this book Simonetta Carr tells the story of John Owen’s life and times in simple terms and with beautiful illustrations.  As a student, John was brilliant, athletic, musical, and too full of life to sleep more than four hours a night.  He graduated during the Civil War, uncertain of his salvation but convinced that the Parliament was right.  Once convinced of his salvation, John Owen became a dedicated and enthusiastic pastor, even writing catechisms for his parishioners who were confused by all the recent religious changes.   Throughout his eventful life, John continued to serve God and his people in many exciting ways.

Besides the delightful biography and illustrations, John Owen contains a timeline, a modern version of Owen’s Lesser Catechism, and a list of interesting facts about his times.  With this beautiful book both children and adults can enjoy learning about the great and godly man who was John Owen.

John Owen would be a valuable part of any study of great Christians, the English Civil War, or the Puritans. I highly recommend it.

For more information, a preview,  and a free study guide, visit the Christian Biographies for Young Readers website.

Other books about this time include:

The Governor of England, a fictionalized biography of Oliver Cromwell  (link is to my review).

Salt in His Blood, a fictionalized biography of Michael de Ruyter, a great Dutch admiral (link is to my review).

Children of the New Forest, the earliest and one of the most interesting English historical novels for children (link is to free ebook at Project Gutenberg).  I’ve read it aloud to my children 3 times.

This review is linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Raising HomemakersFinishing Strong , and Trivium Tuesdays.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Simonetta Carr for the purpose of this review.

Pickled Beans, Large and Small Batches

We serve these pickled beans at almost every special occasion or company meal.

We serve these pickled beans at almost every special occasion or company meal.

Large Batch Pickled Beans:

Use about 5 gallons of freshly picked green beans to make about 14 quarts pickled beans.

Carefully wash and trim beans.

Into each hot, clean quart jar put:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 head dill weed
  • 1 t crushed chili peppers

Fill with carefully cleaned and trimmed beans, allowing 1 inch of headroom

Prepare brine, bring to a boil, and add to the jars immediately (do not boil for long):

  • 17 c water
  • 17 c vinegar
  • 1 ¾ c pickling salt

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Allow a few weeks before flavors to develop.

Tip: If you run out of brine, which may happen depending on how you pack the beans, mix up some new brine using the small batch recipe below.

Note:  This recipe assumes that you know and follow all proper canning procedures.  For more information see a good resource about canning, such as Putting Food By, or a canning site such as Bernardin.

Small Batch Pickled Beans:

Use about 2 gallons of freshly picked green beans to make about 6 quarts pickled beans.

Carefully wash and trim beans.

Into each hot, clean quart jar put:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 head dill weed
  • 1 t crushed chili peppers

Fill with carefully cleaned and trimmed beans, allowing 1 inch of headroom

Prepare brine, bring to a boil, and add to the jars immediately (do not boil for long):

  • 7 ¾ c water
  • 7 ¾ c vinegar
  • 14 T (or ¾ c + 2 T) pickling salt

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Allow a few weeks for flavors to develop.

Note:  This recipe assumes that you know and follow all proper canning procedures.  For more information see a good resource about canning, such as Putting Food By, or a canning site such as Bernardin.

Based on Putting Food By (p303) and other recipes.

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