Monthly Archives: September 2015

Menu for the Week


Oatmeal with cherries

PB Toast


Scrambled Eggs/toast

Oatmeal with apples

Coffee Cake

Pancakes with Maple syrup


Bean Burritos

Nachos with beans and cheese

Ham and cheese grilled sandwiches and Tomato soup

Leftover potato soup

Lunchables- cut up cheese, crackers, lunchmeat, hummus, baby carrots, sliced fruit

PB sandwiches and baby carrots

Grilled open face pizza sandwiches


Canadian Meat Pie

Enchiladas, Spanish rice, salad

Burmese Curry, rice

Potato soup, bread


Pizza with Canadian bacon

French fries, Chef Salad

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Another Way Home by Deborah Raney


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description:

Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.

Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed.

My Review:

Infertility is a tough issue that faces many more families than we realize. While it has been touched on in Christian fiction, I have enjoyed these novels that address the hard, nitty gritty emotional issues that these families face. I felt like this book really addressed a topic that often Christians tend to minimize. The emotional pain that adoption can hold on all fronts, for all those involved. Ms. Raney, once again, does an amazing job of endearing you to this family. I will miss this series as I have enjoyed every one of them. I hope, even though Abingdon might not be printing fiction anymore, that another publisher will snatch Ms. Raney up quickly. We need more books like this one!

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Hiding Places by Erin Healy

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the Book:

Eleven-year-old Kate Whitby leads an invisible life, the youngest member of her odd family. They live in their historic small-town hotel, where she is an expert at keeping everyone’s secrets: her sister’s a thief, her great-grandmother isn’t as crazy as people think, her mother lives in the past, and her beloved grandfather might have killed his best friend.

Devoted to the people she loves—more than they have ever been to her—Kate vows to protect each one.

Charlie Fuse has lived on the streets since his alcoholic father threw him out. When Charlie’s powerful street family tests his loyalty by demanding that he kill the son of a rival gang leader, he refuses. They frame him for the murder, forcing Charlie to run.

When Kate finds Charlie injured and penniless, she hides him from his enemies and her uncharitable relatives, unaware that he has a connection to her family as old as the hotel itself.

My Review:

As most of Erin’s books are, this one has a flavor of the supernatural, without really having it in it. Homeless children, gangs, and a crazy bunch of people running a hotel didn’t seem to have much in common until near the end.

Kate was cute. She was unique and I loved her perspective on things. The rest of the characters, I had a harder time relating to, especially in the way they were written out. But the clear word pictures drew me in. I loved the secret passageways, the grandmother among others that were woven throughout.

Overall, this story is about how sometimes parents can neglect their children while taking care of them. They don’t realize how much they are neglecting them at times, in the busy part of life. That is what I took away from it. I need to spend time actually listening to my children as well.

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Center of Gravity by Laura McNeil



Book Description

Ava’s life in the coastal South appears nearly perfect after her recent marriage to the powerful and handsome Mitchell Carson. She loves her husband and the family they have created. Even Mitchell’s young son from a previous marriage, Jack, with his superhero ambitions, can’t imagine life without Ava. Outwardly, Mitchell appears to be a caring husband and doting father, but as Ava soon discovers, there is a dark side to Mitchell Carson that she never imagined.

When Graham Thomas, a lawyer with a secret past, stumbles into Ava’s life, everything changes. Mitchell’s jealous streak emerges after an innocent encounter between Graham and Ava, and Mitchell soon convinces himself that Ava is unfaithful. When Mitchell starts divorce proceedings and a custody war, Jack is caught in the middle, which soon makes him question Ava’s pure intentions. As Ava searches for a way to save her family she begins to uncover her husband’s secret past and capacity for unhinged jealousy and rage.

My Review:

I have been a faithful wholesale customer of Thomas Nelson for many, many years. We are not a huge store, but enjoy purchasing christian books and bibles from a publisher we can trust. I recently was very dismayed to read Center of Gravity. It is printed and published as a Christian fiction novel. While it is very well written and the story is one that needs to be told, there was not even a hint of inspiring or Christian messages that the characters or readers could take away with them. There are multiple swear words, and not just mild ones throughout the novel.

I love to see novels addressing hard topics like spousal abuse. However, I want to see the hope that Christian fiction can give throughout, even if it is not in the form of bible verses and the like.

As I said, it is well written and for that, if this was a secular novel, I would give it above 4 stars. It addressed a needed topic in a very moving way. As a Christian novel, it would get two stars. It was not what it appeared to be, which was disappointing.


I received  this book for review from BookLook Bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.


I review for BookLook Bloggers

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Flames by Ginny Yttrup


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

The fourth novel from acclaimed, award-winning author Ginny L. Yttrup. When betrayal’s flames explode, can Jessica Weaver preserve what matters most?

I preserve legacies…

So begins the story of Jessica Weaver—wife, mother, and fire archeologist. Preserving Yosemite National Park’s natural and cultural resources is Jessica’s job. Preserving her family’s legacy is her obsession. But when she discovers her husband’s infidelity, betrayal’s flames threaten her family and all she’s fought to protect.

Haley Weaver, a sophomore in high school, is a daddy’s girl. As she enters the throes of first love, timid yet intrigued, Haley also discovers her father’s affair. Stunned and broken, Haley flees into the wilds of Yosemite National Park. If she can’t trust her father, how can she trust her boyfriend—or even love itself?

When wildfire breaks out and Haley is missing, Jessica fears the worst. In a race against time, she searches for her daughter as she deals with the magnitude of what her husband’s affair may cost her family. How can she go on if she doesn’t find Haley in time?

My Review:

I always know when I pick up a book by Ginny Yttrup that I will be challenged. I will be challenged to think outside the box. This story followed three characters, and gives you the story from their individual points of view. While this can be a bit difficult to follow at times, Ms. Yttrup does a great job of keeping your attention.

I found myself copying quotes from the book and sending them to my friends and saying “You got to read this book!”

I have to say I have never seen a book that so clearly told the story of a wife that loves her husband, but has marriage problems like this one. Ms. Yttrup captures the agony of the process and how it effected all parties involved. However, if you are looking for Christianese wording, a slew of bible verses or the normal content of many books like this, you will not find that here. This book is one that you feel the story, the seeking and the message is painted for you without the words.

I highly recommend this story.

Available for preorder on Amazon

Flames by Ginny Yttrup 

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The Lost Heiress by Roseanna White


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.
As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

My Review:

This story builds on itself. It gives the impression of a happy, regency romance, but quickly has dark twists and turns throughout. I found the story line intriguing and since the focus was not romance, that seemed to add flavor to the story without overpowering it. The mystery that separated a baby from her father when they were young quickly comes to light, but you are mystified as to how it will all play out.
I enjoyed this book, as I have enjoyed others of Roseanna’s books. She does a wonderful job of spinning a tale with history, light romance, and faith all in one.

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MFW- ECC, AHL, etc Week 4


The week was off with a start and serious faces. Tuesday was the local homeschool kickoff. We hurried through our daily work to go and help out there. My class on succeeding with your children struggle, went well, I believe.

IMG_0944IMG_0940 Practicing the first steps of cursive on the iPad. We have been having trouble with it on paper.

IMG_0942Sorting legos is always a chore, but listening to audio stories while sorting makes it better and gets school done as well.  We have been listening to Swiss Family Robinson, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (for the older ones), I am going to be doing more from this book next week, but reading aloud. “Prayers that Changed History”


Here are some of our leaf collections that they found for science this week.

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IMG_0937 Who says you can’t do math on the go? Algebra 2, on the way to the doctor and back. 100% on that lesson!

For our “American” dinner, we went with Venison Steaks, corn on the cob, homemade macaroni and cheese, Iced tea and peach crisp. The one nice thing about doing ECC, is having themed weeks of meals all planned out for me. I am planning on doing some freezer meals, and looking ahead for the weeks to correspond.

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We have been also encouraging working on practice SAT tests and writing classes will start up this week.

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Succeeding When Your Child Struggles


I would come every year to our local homeschool kick off classes and wonder if anyone else wanted to homeschool, but had children that struggled so hard to learn as I did.  I would sit and look around at everyone and imagined their children at perfectly still in desks with textbooks in front of them.  I wanted to have a class that covers some of the practical tips for homeschooling when learning doesn’t come easy. I have since learned that this was not the case.

Learning struggles look different for everyone. For me, I have had children that struggled in a variety of ways. If you are persevering in homeschooling a child that struggles in academics is pat yourself on the back. Then, give yourself a hug from almost everyone in this room. You are not alone. I know it is hard. It is a lonely journey you are traveling if you let it be. But I am here to encourage you to have hope.

There are many ways to succeed when your child struggles.

One of the first steps is to figure out how your particular child learns.

Book recommendations-


The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias

You can’t make me… but I can be persuaded by Cynthia Tobias

Every Child Can succeed by Cynthia Tobias

Beyond Survival by Diana Waring

How to teach your child by Tamara Chilver

Next, support is one of the most important things you can have. I thought when I had a child that didn’t learn to read within the first 6 weeks of teaching I was alone. I thought that I had failed and took it personally. “I would work harder. I would push them harder.” I sat and read The Well trained mind.” This book told me I failed. I sat alone, sobbing on the couch, thinking of all things I should have done. I was so afraid to talk to anyone, and when I asked, I was told, “They are young, they will get it, just give them some time.”

The truth is, when you are dealing with a learning disability, you need to get help and support now. This means seeking out the first level on the ladder of help.

Start with the physical. This means eye exams and a doctor’s physical. This can be hard if you are the kind of family that doesn’t go to doctors normally. But it is an important rung on the ladder of seeking support.

Then next, be honest with the doctor and the other veteran homeschool moms. Let them know you are not talking about a normal disinterested child. Get referrals to the next exam on the ladder from experienced moms and the doctor. There can be many reasons a child can struggle. Get involved in your local support group. If there is not one, start one. Make it a priority. When you talk to other moms, you can realize you are not alone and keep going.

  • What about when they are older and struggle? How do you protect them from mocking, yet don’t allow for excuses? Get them involved in something they are good at. Ask yourself, what are their strengths? What can they do really well and it makes them feel good. Since school is a struggle, give them one thing they enjoy and feel like they are conquering something. Many kids that do poorly in school are some of our best athletes. Sports can really help as they work out their energy and frustration on a different playing field.
  • Stop trying to make things fun. When a child struggles, school is not fun for them. Some things will be more enjoyable, but help them to realize this is a job that they are required to do, rather than something that they will enjoy. In time, enjoyment may come, but for now, work to teach the importance of working hard.
  • Stop rejecting technology – There are a ton of resources for children that have brains that work a different way. We have been programmed for many years as homeschoolers, that technology is not the best. It might not be the best for everyone, but if your child struggles, you are not giving him a crutch, you are giving him a tool. Use technology and make it work for you. It is not second best; it is the best for them. Examples of technology that you can use- iPad, Dragon Speak, audio textbooks, audio books, headphones, iPod, Teaching Textbooks, etc.
  • Seek help when you can’t do it. There is no shame in this. In fact, this is what makes you a good mom and teacher. Get a tutor or even go to the school district. They are not required to help you, but they do offer a lot of help.

To close up, I would just encourage you. You will have good days and bad days. On the bad days, seek out learning. If that means no one can sit still to listen to you read, maybe today you watch a movie about the Great Chicago Fire. Jumping jacks while you quiz multiplication tables, or sometimes it means you go out and hike Lone Pine. Remember tomorrow is another day. Don’t give up! On the way to Lone Pine put an audio history book in or Foreign language CD’s, geography songs. When you are hiking, talk to them. Get them noticing and doing things in nature. When you get home, try again with math. Be flexible! Learning can happen anywhere and anytime.

Online Resources: Articles for encouragement and guidance Child Diagnostics Audio textbooks and other books – Reading, math, etc. assistance for a fraction of the regular price through membership -Resources for testing Special needs help – Crash Course history- Fast paced history facts – Online Tutoring services

Our children may have unique things about them, but if you can persevere, you will succeed until through the struggles.

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Bathsheba by Angela Hunt


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

After sending his army to besiege another king’s capital, King David forces himself on Bathsheba, a loyal soldier’s wife. When her resulting pregnancy forces the king to murder her husband and add her to his harem, Bathsheba struggles to protect her son while dealing with the effects of a dark prophecy and deadly curse on the king’s household.

Combining historical facts with detailed fiction, Angela Hunt paints a realistic portrait of the beautiful woman who struggled to survive the dire results of divine judgment on a king with a divided heart.

My Review:

Many people like to avoid biblical fiction because they don’t want to add to the bible. For myself, I read a biblical fiction book like Angela Hunt’s and it drives me to the bible. I especially loved all the footnotes in the end, references, and notes on the research behind this book.

Bathsheba was a beautiful woman. Her beauty to her, seemed as if a curse. This story is told in first person from two points of view, Bathsheba and Nathan, the prophet. It fully will make you dig into the bible and see, perhaps for the first time, how this lovely woman has been maligned and harshly judged throughout history. You will see that, perhaps for the first time, God’s heart in this sad state of affairs.

I loved the quote that was found near the end… David says he loved Bathsheba the most because she forgave the most.

As we see in our lives today, when men in roles of leadership sin, it affects not just him and his family, it affects the others in the church around him. David repented for his sin, but it still followed him the rest of his days. He had to live with the consequences even though he repented sincerely. I feel like we often want to say “He repented, it means what he did was not that bad. Let’s push it under the chair now.” We forget about the maligned, the hurting, in our effort to protect the reputation of the church. In this, we have even taken the story of Bathsheba and done victim blaming, because we don’t want to think the worst of David.

This book was written very well, with excellent research and is one that will stick with me for quite some time.

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MFW- ECC, AHL… Weeks 2-3


School takes many different forms.


We do a lot of bookwork. But we also realized that hard work and exercise help with school.

This includes painting the storage shed.


As well as picking plums for jam.


Balancing on the roof without spilling the paint, really takes skill. He had fun with it though! He has been working to earn money to go to Parkour classes and this fit the bill!


Our “Global Art” Hands around the world paper dolls. There were a lot of laughs while doing that one, but we got it done!


Monopoly Game with friends!


Our very sorry, around the world cake from the end of Week 2.


We find that working on the floor helps with some grounding and paying attention. It does not always work, but this time, he was working away.



Labeling all the states names



Book Basket reading time!

IMG_0923 School? Really? Again?


L. has been writing a daily newspaper for his writing assignments until Language arts co-op classes start next week. It needs some work, but is cute!


It is easy to see pictures and think that things always go smoothly. We finished our third week of school and have had days where I want to throw my hands up and wonder if they learned anything. It helps me to take pictures and see that we did actually work.  On one of the days last week, we were struggling to find cohesiveness. After reading the D.L Moody story about the Great Chicago Fire in Hero Tales, we ended up watching a few videos and learned more.

We had a great talk about some of the history of Chicago.

Chicago World Expo

It is helpful to learn to investigate more into history as we are in this unit and figure out how they learn while we are reading.

On the harder days, I realize that my goals are to help them to learn. It doesn’t always mean it looks conventional. I just need to work to get that knowledge into them.

We were working on AHL- my son is reading through Job as well as all the other assignments. Our writing looks a little different, but things are going smoothly.

This is the first year they are all using Teaching Textbooks and I have to say that is my favorite part of school so far. I stay highly involved so to make it work. Many people complain about it, but most of the time, it is often because it is not used in the way it was intended with an involved teacher and math drills. At least, I hope I am right about that! They seem to be learning!

We also did a little “Beginning of school celebration” by letting the boys go to a nearby amusement park with their cousins and relatives. My oldest son went on his first college visit as well, checking out a college in Seattle.



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Another lesson we learned in the last few weeks was about air quality. This was a picture of one of the smoke filled days during that time. That is not fog.


Thankfully, it finally decided to rain and drive the smoke away, keeping the fires at bay. We hope it stays that way.

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