About Me

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Mysteries, polka dots, California Rolls, TJ Maxx, cozy blankets, rainy days and getting the first spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar make me smile. Spiders, rude people, cold fingers and toes, baby leashes, people that don't wrap their packages before going to the Post Office, poison ivy and Math (pretty much all of it) make me want to scream. My perfect day would be spent with my wonderful husband and sweet girls- watching movies in our jammies! Of course, having the movie theater to ourselves would be great, too. Please pass the popcorn and M&M's.:) I am saved by the grace of God. He is my constant companion and hears my every prayer. What a blessing! I'd love to hear from you! Lori at toosillysisters@cox.net

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dave Raymond's American History Curriculum- Compass Classroom

My knowledge of history was quite limited before I began homeschooling.  Oh yes, I memorized names and dates in high school (and then promptly forgot them after the test was over) but believed they had nothing to do with me- or so I thought.   

And then I grew up and became a home school mom.
Who absolutely loves history- because I now know that it's so much more than just names and dates.

 I'm excited about Dave Raymond's American History, by Compass Classroom, because it's exciting, engaging- even entertaining- and teaches students (and their parents!) why history is very important and what it has to do with our lives.  

It's the way history should be taught because it makes you THINK.

The above and following pages are examples from my daughter's year long portfolio.  Mr. Raymond encourages "craftsmanship" and "ownership" and for student's to take pride in their work. (It means so much more coming from him than me!)  At the end of the semester, the portfolio will be a textbook of sorts to reinforce what the student has learned.  (This is absolute genius, in my opinion.)

This one semester course (Meso-America to the Constitution) is based on a series of short lectures, followed by reading assignments, questions, writing assignments, and exams.  There is also a Colonial Map project and a Costumed Speech, both explained in the videos.

The 13 lessons are:

Lesson One: Orientation
Lesson Two: The Banner of the Sun: Meso-America
Lesson Three: Brave New World: Early Explorers
Lesson Four: The Colossus of the Empire: The Colonies
Lesson Five: Stability and Change: The Reformational Colonies
Lesson Six: A City Upon a Hill: The Puritans
Lesson Seven: A Foreign War at Home: Wars of Control
Lesson Eight: Grace, the Founder of Liberty: The Great Awakening
Lesson Nine: Fathers of Independence: Adams, Franklin, Witherspoon, and Henry
Lesson Ten: Liberty or Death: The Declaration of Independence
Lesson Eleven: Awesome Providence: The War of Independence I
Lesson Twelve: Awesome Providence: The War of Independence II
Lesson Thirteen: A More Perfect Union: The Constitution

My 15 year old daughter and I watched the videos together.  Dave Raymond is engaging because he sincerely loves history!  He knows what's important and isn't afraid to teach it.  Through Mr. Raymond's lectures, we were truly impressed with how much U.S. history we learned.  The fact that it's taught from a Christian worldview was refreshing and an education in and of itself.  Bravo!  Stunning artwork is featured throughout the lectures along with characters, events, literature, and religious beliefs.  It's created for middle school-high school but I think it would be beneficial for adults, too. 

One other reason I loved this curriculum is the Teacher Guide that's provided.  Dave Raymond walks you through each and every step.  It's almost stress free for parents/teachers and very user friendly for students.  I believe I just heard a huge sigh of relief?;)  

In addition to teaching history, Mr. Raymond also explains:
 -how to take notes
- how to create the portfolio
 -why we study history and much more!

Needless to say, I highly recommend Dave Raymond's U.S. History and plan on finishing the lessons for my daughter's first semester of high school.  I'm looking forward to it!:)

*Want to take a peek for yourself?  Download 2 FREE lessons HERE!*

You can purchase Dave Raymond's American History Part 1 (physical product) for $75.  This includes 4 DVDs and a PDF Student Reader and Teacher's Guide located on the first DVD.  The other option is a digital product (also $75) that has downloadable files for lectures and a downloadable Student Reader and Teacher Guide.  Additionally you can purchase the Online Portal for $125 which includes a moderator and a grader.

*I was given the digital product of this curriculum in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Sunday, July 28, 2013

American Girl Crafts House Party!

We hosted our second House Party last weekend!
They are beyond fabulous!

The party had my name all over it.:)

If you haven't heard of House Party the concept is simple- but spectacular!
You apply to host a fun party of your choice- and then you wait and hope that you get chosen.

We were one of the lucky ones!  
Look at all the goodies they sent us!

We found out we were going to be hosts while eating lunch at Panera.
With all the noise we made you would have thought we'd won the lottery!

We quickly got to work deciding who we'd invite, what we'd serve for refreshments and the date of the party.
Love party planning!

Each guest brought something yummy for the Ice Cream Sundae Bar and we provided four different kinds of ice cream.

Fudge topping, whipped cream, sprinkles, strawberry sauce, bananas, marshmallows, M&M's, coconut and more were on the menu.

Then the girls got busy creating.

We asked for everyone to bring items for scrapbooking.  Pictures, magazine cutouts, plane/movie tickets, awards, poems, etc.

Along with their personal items, House Party provided oodles of stickers, rubber stamps, decorative tape, shapes, and even a door prize!

The girls worked for 1 1/2 hours without stopping.  

So much cutting, glueing, writing and chatting going on!

I'd say the My Life Scrap & Stuff Book Kits were an absolute hit!
My daughter finished hers this weekend and already wants to start making another one!

It was such fun to walk around and take peeks.:)

This American Girl scrapbook craft would be perfect for a birthday party-

for Girl Scouts

and how about camp!

We were lucky and had it, well, just because every day is a celebration!:)

I remember when I used to scrapbook and all the time it took to create a page.
The pages in this book were perfect for young ladies.  Just enough room for a few favorite pictures and some fun embellishments.  (Adore the FRIENDS sticker above!)

I had a friend help me host this party- and 11 sweet girls as guests.

All I had to do was clean up at the end!

That't my kind of party!

The girls even used a page in their books as an autograph book.
Such a creative way to remember the party!

It was truly a fun evening.

And I even joined in the fun...

for a second.;)

Hoping we get to host another House Party again- soon.;)

There's a Keurig one that looks super fun...

If you get chosen, can I be on your guest list?:)

*This American Girl Crafts Party was provided by House Party in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gone South by Meg Moseley- God's Grace and Second Chances

My Thoughts:

Gone South, by Meg Moseley, is one woman's journey to spread her wings, explore her roots and begin anew.  After a heartbreaking tragedy, Letitia McComb purchases her great, great grandmother's Southern home in hopes of finding her place in the world.  Having moved countless times in her childhood she's always longed for a place that she could truly call home.  Letitia soon discovers that the mere mention of her name, the very same name as her great, great grandmother, brings stares and frowns to everyone that meets her.  She has no idea what's going on as this certainly is not what she had anticipated! The truth comes out along the way, and Letitia meets a curious collection of characters that quickly become like family.  I loved Letitia's strength and determination.  She had such spunk!  The characters in the book were a fabulous, eclectic combination of good eggs and sour apples.  I adored Melanie, the runaway, and the relationship that she had with Letitia.  It was absolutely heartwarming and inspiring.  To say that I despised Dunc Hamilton is an understatement.  He was detestable and selfish- great villain.  Sweet George and Grandpa John were heroes in their own right.  Gone South is a beautiful story of second chances and God's mercy.  

About This Book

The charm of the South drew her back to her family’s roots. But when the town’s old resentments turn the sweet tea bitter, can Tish find a welcome anywhere?

Leaving frosty Michigan for the Deep South was never a blip in the simple plans Tish McComb imagined for her life, dreams of marriage and family that were dashed five years earlier in a tragic accident. Now an opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents’ Civil War era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word. She wonders if God has given her a new dream— the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.

When Tish discovers that McCombs aren’t welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines. Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance. What’s a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble’s resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.

Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways. With Melanie blocked from going home, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love and forgiveness.
- See more at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9780307730800#sthash.sWvuioCm.dpuf

*I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gather your Family Together for A Big Year for Lily!

My Thoughts:

My 10 year old daughter and I adore Lily Lapp.  In fact, we savor each and every page of her adventures- she's almost like a member of our family!  Remember the Little House on the Prairie books?  Well, sweet Lily is a modern day, Amish version of Laura.  As you read her story you'll giggle with Lily and often your heart will go out to her.  She tries so hard and yet sometimes life just isn't fair!  Aaron Yoder is a constant menace and Effie Kauffman may even rival Nellie Olson for bully of the year!  A Big Year for Lily is perfectly delightful and wonderful for family reading time.  You may even find yourself sneaking a few pages ahead.:)   A Big Year for Lily is Book 3 in the series (Book 1- Life with Lily and Book 2- A New Home for Lily) written by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher.  

It's hard to pick my favorite stories in this book but let me try- without giving too much away.:)  

#1-The mystery of the mixed up lunches made my blood boil!  How could anyone accuse Lily of stealing??  
#2-Bats!  In Lily's bedroom?!  Can you even imagine?  
#3-We had such a giggle when Lily tried her first ice cream cone.:)  Ah, the precious innocence of a child.  

Learn more about Lily HERE!

About A Big Year for Lily: 

Book Three in the Adventures of Lily Lapp series. Co-written with Mary Kinsinger.

Lily Lapp's family has settled into their new home in Pennsylvania, but life still holds big changes and big steps for Lily. Good changes, like once again living close to her beloved cousin and best friend, Hannah. Bad changes, like a mean girl who plays tricks on her. And no change at all where Lily would most want one--Aaron Yoder sits near her in school and relentlessly teases her. Surprises are in store for Lily as she learns, with Mama and Papa's help, to manage the ups and downs of growing up Amish.

The third of four charming novels that chronicle the gentle way of the Amish through the eyes of a young girl, A Big Year for Lily gives children ages 8-12 a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Amish---and lots of fun and laughter along the way. It combines Mary Ann Kinsinger's real-life stories of growing up Amish and the bestselling writing of Amish fiction and nonfiction author Suzanne Woods Fisher. With charming line drawings in each book, this series captures the hearts of readers young and old.

Meet Suzanne: 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, includingAmish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visitsuzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your iPhone or iPad! Download the Free App!http://bit.ly/134r55G

Learn more about Lily athttp://adventuresoflilylapp.com/

Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating the release of A Big Year for Lilybook three in the beloved Adventures of Lily Lapp series, with a giveaway extravaganza!



One winner will receive:

Twelve winners will receive:

  • Special prizes specially picked by Lily (something new each day)! Suzanne will announce the winners on July 29 on her blog!

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 27th. All winners will be announced July 29th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 29th to see if you won one of the fun prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

*I was given a copy of A Big Year for Lily from Litfuse Publications in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

homeschooling- the path less traveled

Years ago I sent my older daughter to school because "everyone else was doing it".  She was going to the school.  You know the one.  Every parent dreams of sending their child there.  In my heart I knew it wasn't for me- for us- and I worried about her every day.  Turns out I had reason to do so.

She was being bullied- by girls.
Mean, rich girls.
But in kindergarten?

Oh yes, it starts young.

Preschool was a delight.  M loved it and I loved having time to do things like shop and read.  I'll admit it, "me time" is prettttty nice.  

But in kindergarten my husband and I were was told (by the principal) to basically "just get over it".  "Your daughter needs to learn to let these things go."  Then Mrs. Principal gave me a hug.  A HUG.  

All of a sudden I was back in junior high French class with Ms. Sullivan.  Her words echoing in my mind. "You'd sell our mother for an A!" and the command "Say Heil Hitler if you want a good grade!"  The school system had failed me back then and it was happening again.  I always believed that good would prevail but in this movie the villain wins.

I was afraid.  How could I teach my child??  No one else I knew did such a thing.  But you know what?  The thought of sending my daughter back to people that condoned bullies scared me even more.

And so we jumped off.  No more bullies, no more getting up early and way less worries.  (I still worry, just about different things.  Moms allwwaayys worry.)

Now we choose our own curriculum, travel "off season", and laugh at the thought of evolution.  We talk about God, eat lunch at Panera and go to the library all. the time.  When people ask if my children ever see kids their own age I have to laugh.  We do so much socializing that we have a tough time getting our school work done.  Besides, following the strongest personality/loudest mouth in the class isn't socializing.  That's peer pressure.

Yes, we fight.  Yes, we have tough days.  Yes, I want to run away from home occasionally.  But, I love my girls and feel beyond blessed that I get to stay home with them.  I'm a follower extraordinaire but I'm so happy that we chose the path less traveled.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble- Mystery, Murder and a Midwife!

My Thoughts:

A beautiful island with two unsolved murders is just the beginning of Colleen Coble's Rosemary Cottage!  The second book in her Hope Beach series, it delivers excitement, romance, intrigue AND the wisdom of a midwife?  Only Colleen Coble!  You'll definitely want to bring this book to the beach!  This is why...

#1- The setting is gorgeous.  Hope Island, in the Outer Banks, N.C., is a place you'll want to live.  My husband proposed to me on the beach in Duck, N.C..:)

#2- The characters are interesting- no cookie cutters here!  Amy Lange is a midwife and shares a wealth of knowledge throughout this book.  (I took notes!)  She even surfs! Curtis Ireland (love the name) is a Coast Guard officer that wears- a do rag!  Jumping out of helicopters is part of his job, you guys.  Sparks fly all through the book with this couple!

#3- Colleen Coble keeps us guessing until the very end!  Following clues contained in a prayer journal, along with a secret code, was a bit like playing Nancy Drew.  Thrilling!

#4- God is the center (and the hero) of the story.  Colleen Coble never loses her focus on the Lord.  She's entertains in every one of her books and yet never fails to give God the glory.

#5- Fabio, the wild pony- Colleen Coble never ceases to surprise her readers.;)

I really enjoyed Rosemary Cottage and revisiting Hope Beach.  The characters introduced in Tidewater Inn were there once again to greet me like old friends.  Amy Lange and Curtis Ireland are an exciting couple, rough edges and all!  Their story isn't an easy one and yet you cheer for them all the way through.  Heather is brilliantly instrumental in "stirring the pot".  I was never able to relax with her around!  And let's not forget Fabio, the wild pony!  He's a whimsical, but crucial, character.  A perfect example of why Colleen Coble is so loved- she never stops surprising her readers.  Thank you, Colleen!

More About Rosemary Cottage:

Amy came to Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there's a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island . . .

The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She's even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It's always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben's disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder.

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. If anyone knew who little Raine's father was, Curtis could lose his beloved niece. Yet he can't help being drawn to Hope Beach's new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina.

Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other . . . and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden?

Meet Colleen: Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Learn more about Colleen: http://colleencoble.com/


Water can be calming and healing, but it can also be dangerous, as Amy Lange and Curtis Ireland both found out. Both lost their siblings to the sea, and they hope to find healing on Hope Island. But will they find it, or will their quest to find answers set them at odds with each other and with those who have secrets that need to stay hidden?

Find out in Colleen Coble’s latest book, Rosemary Cottage, which released July 9. To celebrate, Colleen is hosting a 12-day Nautical Summer Giveaway. From July 16-27, Colleen will be giving away a new nautical prize every day. She’ll announce the winners on July 29 on her website, so mark your calendars for that date to see if you were picked as a lucky winner!

Not on Facebook? Enter here.
*I was given a copy of this book by Litfuse Publications in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Sunday, July 21, 2013

trials can be a blessing

I like to call them bumps in the road.  It just sounds... nicer.
I'm referring to trials.  troubles.  The things that make us worry, fret and call out to God for help.

They are a nightmare.  

We're supposed to praise the Lord for times of trial?
Why would we ever do that??

I want to let you in on a secret.  I'm currently experiencing the worst trials of my life.
Crying in the shower, bawling my heart out on the phone to my Mom kind of trials.
Begging the Lord for guidance. all. the. time.

It's not pretty.

But I realized something.  God cares.  Really, truly and deeply.  He adores me and knows my heart. He also knew I was happily coasting life's road as a good person.

He wanted more from me.  Being good is not enough, dear friends.

God wants my heart- and yours.  He puts us through trials so when the rough times happen- and they will- we'll be strong enough to get through them.

My trials are not easy and I'm sure yours aren't either.  Please call out to the Lord- He's waiting!  He'll hold you in the palm of His hand, if you just ask.  I know as He's held me there many times.

You'll be in good company.