MFW Exploring Cultures and Countries Preparation and Week 1

It is the beginning of another school year. It looks a little different this year as this time, we have two in high school and the younger two are 5th and 7th grade.

Barring any arguments about what or how school will be done, we should conquer all and learn this year once again.

We are using My Father’s World- Exploring Cultures and Countries, Ancient History and Literature as well as US history. This will be our 6th year using My Father’s World.

I am working hard to keep things very simple and focusing on learning, but yet, not stress about it to an extreme.

It seems there has to be a good balance between overloading students and lacking discipline.


We have finished Week 1 and are onto Week 2…


11888013_10204936237545495_8440779391108698358_n Grade 12 books that do not have a home yet and are still sitting in the living room on the bench.

11949269_10204936237385491_1516753798422191573_nGrade 7 book Basket- ready to go

11953110_10204936236865478_3423488326522991488_nGrade 9 Book Basket – Ben Hur is one of the extra reads we are going to try for as well. I also bought an Usborne Encyclopedia as I am going to work on some the ECC geography with my 9th grader as well.

11896187_10204936236625472_6296235972350915425_n 5th Grade Reading basket

11254117_10204893682321641_3085528098806014895_n My organized shelf in my room with binders, extra books we are not using, pencils, glue, crayons, scissors etc.

11895122_10204881139808086_7601148495899907716_o-2 My main basket… stored in the living room.



I feel very unprepared this year, but am going slowly, but surely forward!

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Never Said by Carol Williams


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description

From bestselling author Carol Lynch Williams (The Chosen One), a contemporary YA novel about a family that has been caught up in what doesn’t matter and how two sisters realize that their relationship—no matter how different the two of them are—is most important.

In this contemporary YA novel by bestselling author Carol Lynch Williams (The Chosen One), fifteen-year-old fraternal twins Annie and Sarah are sisters, but that is where their interaction ends. Then Annie begins to withdraw from the family, forcing Sarah to investigate why-and the secret she uncovers changes their relationship forever.

Never Said explores not only the effects of abuse but also our world’s reliance on self, beauty, and other people’s perceptions. With themes of forgiveness, love, sacrifice, and hope woven throughout the story, teens and other fans of young adult fiction will be drawn to this story of two sisters who must find a way to come together and find the healing they both need.

My Review:

This book has a beautiful cover and an alternative writing style that will appeal to many teens that do not read a ton. The chopped clipped sentences were unusual for me. I enjoy a more in depth literature with well thought out vocabulary normally, but also love young adult reads on harder topics. This book is written in more a journal type style, with slang and not a lot of detail. It works hard to address some topics that many teen girls may face, abuse, weight, bullying, rejection and issues with parents. The book, like others from this publisher, only takes place over a week. I felt as if I knew the girls about as well as I would know a new neighbor that I have known for a week. I was mildly interested, felt sorry for them, but was not invested enough to care too much what happened.

I think the author did a good job with writing a book to engage readers that struggle with deeper books, but still need to read about hard topics. She failed in engaging readers in any kind of redeeming quality. There was even some unhealthy behavior that was not addressed at all by any of the adults. The reader would be left wondering what was the right thing.

Depression, angst and humiliation is throughout the story without many redeeming qualities.

However, this book, for the intended audience will likely cause some young women to think. It would be one that you could hand a non-Christian friend, as there is no mention of anything Christian in this book.


This book was given to me for review by BookLook Bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Homeschooling- In The Grocery Store

When you are a homeschooler, you end up realizing pretty quickly that school ends up being a way of life.

One thing that I found was that you can find some great resources to help you teach practical skills, while getting your errands done with a little planning.

Grocery Cart Math is a great resource that can be good for 3rd-6th graders to not only keep the kids busy in the grocery store, but also fulfill an extra math assignment. You can write in the book, but also, I believe this one is reproducible in your own family. Make sure to check the copyrights in the front though.

This fun activity can be done at home. You can carry it as far as you want into the grocery store, or just work on it at home for awhile. It takes a little creativity and grocery store ads… It is cheap, and you will have more savvy shoppers in the future after this. Grocery Store Ads

There are many other links to ideas to help incorporate real life skills into our children. Math often sometimes seems hard to use for children in the classroom or at the kitchen table. For boys, especially, that love to eat, making it a practical application can really help excite them. They can see the reality of how it is useful!

Check out a few of these other links for ideas you can use. Some of them were made for classrooms, so change and make them work for you.

Money Math at the Grocery Store

Math At the Grocery Store  

Printable Grocery Store Math $5

The Math Chef 

All in all, keep it simple. If you don’t have time before the grocery store run, do something simple. Hand your child a calculator. Everything you put in the cart, have them keep track of it. As you shop, ask for the running total. If you have coupons, let them keep track of them and show them how to figure if it is really saving you money.

As they get older, involve them in meal planning, shopping, cooking and figuring out how to stick to a budget. Often we teach our high schoolers Algebra, Geometry, Biology, and Chemistry and they leave home and go into debt over groceries. Those subjects are important, but start with the small stuff when they are young too.

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Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

My Review:

I have throughly enjoyed all of Sarah Sundin’s books, I mean, what is not to like? Beautiful covers, flawed characters, World War 2 fiction? All of my favorite things!

This one is a little different than her others, which threw me for a loop at first and I realized that I wanted to sit down and concentrate on it. I usually do a fly by reading, which means I read in very short segments. My life has been busy, so it has been more 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there, than anything else for reading. It is not terribly satisfying, but better than nothing.

However, for this book, I highly recommend giving it your full attention. It starts out slow, but pulls you in with the subtle mystery surrounding events that take place before WW2.  Sarah’s ability to create pretty characters with distinct flaws is no different in this book. I loved seeing the characters grow and change throughout the story.

I will also say this, if you love 1940’s fashion, you will adore this book! Check out Sarah’s Pinterest board for pictures, but this book describes the dresses in such good detail, I felt like I could go and buy it at the store and I knew what it looked like already!

While this book surprised me with the more mystery bent of it, I throughly enjoyed it and will look forward to the rest of this series! I already bought a second copy to lend/give away of this one and I suggest you do the same!

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Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history.

My Review:

One of my favorite books growing up was “Queen of the Reformation”. I don’t know how many times I read that book, but I have always had a soft spot for Katherine, the nun that married Luther.
For that reason, I immediately snatched the chance to read this book before it’s release date. I was not disappointed. Ms. Hedlund captured the exhausting efforts that surrounded Luther as a radical reformer.

The guilt that plagued the monks and nuns that turned their backs on their vows to the church, was an all consuming one.
I really enjoyed how she carried you through the story, showing the imperfect characters that they were, yet preserving the history while not turning this into a sordid romance.

There is some romantic scenes, but they are not the focus in this novel. There is mention of severe torture, rape, murder, as well as hints of impropriety along with enough details to know where the marriage bed would lead to. For that reason, I would recommend this book for adults or mature teens that are used to reading stories of the martyrs etc. The content would not even phase those types.

This book reminds us that while now, many of these names are just the names of church denominations, they were real people. Real people that lived and died for what they believed in.

The release date on this book is October 6th. You can pre-order it now on Amazon

Luther and Katharina 

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Sorry I’m Not Sorry by Nancy Rue

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



Book Description:

Bullies aren’t born mean-through the vicious cycle of mean, bullies are made.

According to the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, one out of every four students is bullied-and 85% of these situations never receive intervention. Parents, students, and teachers have amped up solving the bullying problem for a networked generation of kids.

Written by bestselling author Nancy Rue, each book in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy focuses on a different character’s point of view: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. The books show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for tween girls.

Sorry I’m Not Sorry tells the story of Kylie Steppe, former queen bee of Gold Country Middle School. After bullying a fellow GCMS student, Kylie has been expelled-and she has to attend mandatory counseling. Without her posse to aid her and other peers to torment, Kylie focuses on the person who stole her GVMS popularity crown: Tori Taylor. As Kylie plots revenge on Tori, she attends therapy sessions, where she reveals a few details that might explain why she finds power in preying on her middle school peers. After a rough year with bullying backfire, will Kylie decide to become more empathetic with her peers?

It’s hard for tweens to imagine why a bully acts the way she does. Sorry I’m Not Sorry shows girls that they hold the power to stop bullying through mutual understanding and acts of love.

My Review:


Nancy Rue has a new series of books written about bullying. The unique part of this is you experience in the first part of the series it from the bullied and how to deal with it. Then you see the side of the bully in this book. When the bully becomes the bullied, can anyone believe she can change?

This book would be excellent for a mother and daughter to read together and discuss. If your child has experienced bullying or shows any signs of being a bully especially. This is a wonderful series that will help young people in fiction format, but is a good self help book as well. I think it can also be a helpful series for adult to read that have struggled with dealing with adult bullies as well.

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The ultimate put down for the Christian Novel…

There are so many cliches in Christian fiction writing. But worse than the cliches, are the people that assume that all Christian fiction that is written in a more modern time, contains them.

However, lately, I have seen a trend, that when Christian fiction writers break out of the cliche moulds, the ultimate put down is to say “It is not a Christian book.”

So, I would ask, what makes a Christian book?


Everyone has their opinions, their ideas. For myself, a book that demonstrates the Christian life, showing the characters walking  it out, without using the words, but more actions. Through this, they offer hope.

Hope is what sums up the difference to me.  There are certain things that will not be contained in a Christian novel, if the characters are living a Christian life.

For me, it comes down to personal standards. Everyone has different ones.

When I was growing up, often all fiction was looked down upon. If you ever said you enjoyed reading fiction, it was as if you said you enjoyed sinning on a regular basis. It was not something you said.

I remember reading or hearing women share about how romance novels were similar to porn, and being confused. I had never read a “real” romance novel until I had been married a long time and suddenly realized what they were speaking of. However, they swept all the books that had any type of romantic love into one basket and classified it all as the same. It was not until I saw the vast difference that I realized one very, very large difference.



Hope speaks through the lives of real Christian characters or characters that come to the Lord throughout the book. I have read some very good books that are not Christian, but the flavor stands apart.

I think sometimes we forget that when we judge a book on it’s standards of Christianity, we are judging the author. We are saying what we think of how they view their relationship with God. When we freely claim it is not a Christian book, when it is claiming to be one, we are judging the person, not the book.

We so often forget the person behind the book, as we see the printed page. The cutting “Christian” words we can use in a slighting book review or fast post on FB can really damage someone’s heart. While there can be a need for that, we can do it in a kind way.

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I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but if in the year something really hard happens to me, it generally will be in June or July.

I brace myself for it now.


It is not the healthiest to prepare for the worst all the time. But then again, isn’t it?

My friend spent some time ribbing me a bit the other day after in discussing her new, beautiful deck, I just happened to name about five things that could go wrong with it or could happen if not prevented. For me, that is normal life.

I look to the future, not as something to be dreaded, but the danger to be prevented and watched for. It might be because I am the watchman of the house. I am the care taker and the main decision maker. That makes me two steps ahead on every decision, large or small.

One thing I really had made clear to me the last few days, people really can be mean online. They may not say something to my face, but they will say it online.

I am a straight forward person. Most of the time, if I would say it online, I would say it to your face. I work hard to do that.

On top of all the normal bad things that normally happen in June/July, I have been treated badly by others, mostly online. Some of it was because I chose to voice a different opinion than they had. Another was because I chose to look at a bad situation and see what I could learn from it in a positive way.

All that to say, you never know what someone has going on behind the scenes. When you want to vent, rant and rave or even disagree with someone online, stop for a moment. Think if you would say it to their face. If not, rephrase it.

See what else you can do to speak in a way that will bring life to others, not just display your anger, ignorance or just plain complaints for the world to see.

Try to be a peacemaker, not a warmonger.

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A River Too Deep by Sydney Betts

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

In the spring of 1817, Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long presumed dead; but instead of enjoying a loving reunion, they are plunged into treachery and deceit. Nothing is as they expected and little is what it seems. Even the man who helps her escape is not the reliable suitor he appears. Alcy is caught between gratitude and fear, unable to avoid her rescuer’s attentions or understand the responses they stir. Neither can she tell what sort of man he is or what he intends to do with her in the strange place they are going. Will he keep her for himself or will he sell her to the highest bidder? Of one person only is she certain, but will he come for her before it is too late?

My Review:

This book is set at a time in history that is not often written of. I think it would be a good novel for a older high school student that is studying the era, to get the feel for Native American life. I say older high school students as there is hints of impropriety between some of the characters, as well as some minor details of violence towards women amid the tribes. I am not familiar with some of the accuracy surrounding the tribes of that time, but it does give you a great glimpse into their daily lives and rituals.

I really enjoyed how this book, told in the first person, when it spoke of how she brought the gospel message to the Native Americans, but was seeking to becomes assimilated with them. I am not sure how often that happened in that time period.  There were a few things that were hard to follow in the telling of the story, but overall a interesting historical fiction story. I checked for any historical documentation on the story, but it was not included with the book. I would have loved to see that!

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Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life—and love—altered her plans. Now she’s home again—with a floundering farm to run…a tragic secret…and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives—including their own.

My Review:

It is amazing to me when a suspense author writes contemporary fiction. It is even more astounding to me when she rocks at it, better than her suspense books (which are very good). I have not just liked each one of Irene Hannon’s newest contemporary books, but sincerely enjoyed them. They hit nerves in places that you do not expect to be touched in.

This book touches on two individuals with pain in their past. The set up of building a relationship is subtle and skillfully woven. While not filled with suspense as to what will be the ending, you feel the build up is so relatable. I loved the backstory of secondary characters as well. I highly recommend this read!

This book was provided for me by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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