icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review of "An Amish Christmas, December in Lancaster County"

I was so excited to receive 'An Amish Christmas, December in Lancaster County' to read and review.  This book is a collection of four Amish Christmas Novellas: 'A Miracle for Miriam' by Kathleen Fuller, 'A Choice to Forgive' by Beth Wiseman, 'One Child' by Barbara Cameron, and 'Christmas Cradles' by Kelly Long.  I love reading Amish fiction, so this was such a treat for me!  I had previously read books by Beth Wiseman and Kathleen Fuller, but had not read anything by Barbara Cameron or Kelly Long before this.  All four of the novellas were wonderful reading!

The stories are all centered around Amish communities in Lancaster County at Christmastime.  They are heartwarming tales full of emotion, romance, and drama.  There is a glossary of Amish words at the front of the book. At the end of the book is a group study guide and several Amish recipes.  I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reading Habits?

So, this may be a strange question.  I'm wondering who else, besides me, has 'rules' for their reading.  I've always been a big reader, and much prefer reading over TV.  Don't get me wrong, there are several shows I record on DVR to watch.  I also enjoy the occasional movie.  But I LOVE reading.  I honestly don't think I'd enjoy one of the new E-readers or anything similar.  I need to have the physical book in my hands.  I get most, almost all, of my books free.  The library is visited at least a few times a week for both Chad and I to restock.  I get hand-me-downs, books from Booksneeze, and occasionally buy from used sales.

Anyway, back to my 'rules'.  I've always read at least a few, up to several, books at once.  If I were to only read a fictional book I'd feel guilty, like I'm wasting time, and if I only were to read an educational or non-fiction book I'd feel bored.  So, I've used a few different systems over the years. I do all of my Bible and Bible study reading during the day, and my fiction and non-fiction reading at night, at bedtime. The only problem with this is that there tend to be many nights when I only hold my book, never opened, and fall asleep.  Or I fall asleep after only a few paragraphs.  For many years I would alternate nights-fictional 'fluff' one night, educational/non-fiction the next.  Lately, I've tried something different: I read a chapter from the non-fiction, then read until I fall asleep from fiction.  This is working well for me. 

What do I read?  For fiction, it's nearly always either Amish fiction or fiction about polygamy.  Occasionally I will get sucked into a popular series, such as the 'Hunger Games' series recently. Yes, I know I have strange tastes!  For non-fiction/educational it is usually a homeschooling or parenting book, with the occasional book related to chronic illness or a current issue that has caught my interest.  Aside from my nighttime reading, I read from the Bible during the day while we are doing our homeschooling, and I have two studies I go to during the week that I read for, one is a women's group and the other a small group Jeff and I go to.  So, I have lots of books going at one time, but it seems to work for me.  I also have a very long list of books I want to read-I don't know if I will ever catch up!!

Here is my current reading list:
Fiction: 'Autumn's Promise' by Shelley Shepard Gray
Non-fiction: 'And the Bride Wore White'  by Dannah Gresh (this is a dating book, as I'm preparing for the big 16th birthday in January!!
Bible Studies: 'Romans'  by John Stott and Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney for my Women's group
A Praying Life by Paul Miller for my small group study

Then there are all the kids books we read during our day! As Chad is a beginning reader, we are doing a lot of reading together!

So, that's it-I'm really interested if anyone will respond with their reading habits, or if I'm the only one like this!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review-'You Were Made to Make a Difference'

I was recently provided a copy of 'You Were Made to Make a Difference' by Max Lucado and Jenna Lucado Bishop to read and review.  Max Lucado is a well-known author, and this is co-written with his married, young-adult daughter.  The book is aimed at the teenage population, to inspire them to make a difference in their community, but I could see any adult getting knowledge and inspiration from reading it. I enjoyed the style of this book. It is not overwhelming in size, a fairly quick read.  Many different fonts are used throughout, which would keep a teen's attention.  The sections are written by and labeled 'Max' and 'Jenna', which is great to get both of their perspectives.  There are cute illustrations, photos, and blank sections to answer questions asked. At the end of each chapter is a prayer. There are many true stories and analogies in 'You Were Made to Make a Difference', and frequent scripture references.  This book convinces kids that they CAN make a difference, even now before they are adults.  It encourages them to start in their own community, with small acts of kindness.  I really enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to having my kids read it!  I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review-'The Nativity Collection'

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of 'The Nativity Collection' by Robert J. Morgan to read and review. This beautiful gift book contains six short stories, each uniquely different but all centered around the Christmas season. J.P. Morgan is a talented author, and I really enjoyed this book. The author writes only one short story each year, to share with his church on Christmas Eve. This book is a compilation of those stories.

There are pretty illustrations on nearly every page, and the book is a nice, small hardcover that would be perfect for gift-giving. There is a 'To' and 'From' page in the front of the book. I enjoyed all of the six stories, evoking many different emotions as I read them-from touching and tear-jerking to humorous. I definitely recommend 'The Nativity Collection' for personal reading or as a gift-it would be fun to read as a family during the holidays.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Six weeks down............

So, I've been busy the past six weeks. I've neglected lots of things, one of them being this blog. What was the big change six weeks ago? I started homeschooling my youngest, who is seven years old. Now, I have been homeschooling for 12 years so you would think I'm a pro at this by now. No. Every child is different. Also, my oldest two are much older-one has graduated and is in technical college and the other is a sophomore in High School. Technically I am still homeschooling the High Schooler. But her program is different-she has teachers for each class and live classes through the internet. I am basically a supervisor, or 'learning coach' as they call it in her school. I help her when I can (if my brain cells can recall the high school days, that is), but she is mostly independent. So, it has been several years since I have homeschooled a child who needs my one-on-one teaching all the time. Wow-I forgot how that is!

The other difference is that curriculum has changed-there are still the old tried-and-true curriculums out there, but also a lot of new stuff. I bought some new curriculum, and I must say I absolutely LOVE All About Spelling! I put a banner at the bottom of the blog if you want more information. Chad learned very little in public school last year, I think it was for several reasons, but he just seemed to get lost in the shuffle. So he is at a kindergarten/early 1st grade level in reading and math. This program is making a huge difference.

Thanks to my friend Amy at Life's Little Crazies for her help and direction with this newer curriculum, and also for heading me in the direction of Homeschool Creations. Jolanthe has great ideas, downloads, and is just amazing with all the information she puts out. I don't think she sleeps!

Back to being busy this past six weeks! As all of us Moms know, being a Mom itself is a full-time job. Taxi-driving for the teens is major, getting everyone to music, sports and church activities. Throw in a handful of chronic illnesses (some with fatigue), lots of meds daily including narcotics that make one sleepy, and then homeschool a seven-year-old. He is now with me 24/7. He is high-energy. It's not easy, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. He is halfway through some of our 1st grade curriculum, so it is obvious that he needed this one-on-one time to catch up. Aside from the academics, we are creating an even stronger bond than we had, one that I have treasured with my oldest two as well. I also noticed he is not coming home with the sassy-mouth remarks that he would learn in school. So, it's difficult at times, but totally worth it. I must add that I couldn't do it without my wonderful husband, who is willing to jump in and help out when he is home. Over the years, we have scrimped and stretched and gone without pretty much everything 'extra'(i.e. eating out, entertainment, new clothes, etc....) on a social worker's small salary to be able to homeschool, and it was and is worth it all. That topic is for another post though-I've been asked by several people to post how we do it on our income, so I am planning to post on that soon, promise.

I said at the beginning of the year that I would post our curriculum choices for the year, so here they are:
All About Spelling
First Language Lessons(Grammar)
Explode The Code(phonics)
Horizons Math
Abeka History and Abeka Health, Safety and Manners
Peterson Directed Handwriting
God's Wonderful Works(Science)
Writeshop Primary(Creative Writing)
Leading Little Ones To God (Bible)
He also is part of the Awana program, which I highly recommend!
Throw in some art and music, field trips, sports and that about covers it. Whew. Thank you Lord for your strength and grace!
Here's to the next six weeks and beyond!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review-'The Boy Who Changed the World'

I recently received the book 'The Boy Who Changed the World' to review from Thomas Nelson publishers as part of their Booksneeze program. The basic concept of 'The Boy Who Changed the World' by Andy Andrews is the butterfly effect: "When a butterfly flaps its wings, it moves tiny pieces of air...that move other tiny pieces of air...that move other tiny pieces of air. In fact, on the other side of the world, they might be feeling a big whoosh of wind-all because a butterfly flapped its wings here just a few minutes ago!"

This children's book would make a nice gift. The illustrations are beautiful, and it is hardback with a page for gift-giving to write 'To' and 'From' and 'Date'. My seven-year-old son enjoyed the story, although toward the end I was starting to lose his attention. I think this book would be great for older elementary school age and up. The message of 'The Boy Who Changed the World' is an important one: that you are so important to God, and that every little action you take, every little move you make, can result in something great.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goodbye Summer, Hello School!!

I can't believe summer is coming to a close!! It went by so fast. We had a very quiet summer, with no trips or adventures. Just lots of time at home, swim lessons all summer for Chad (he passed off level 3!), and I worked a lot on organizing in the basement and getting ready for the school year. It was enjoyable to not have to be running around crazy the past few months. We did have an exciting (and exhausting) week doing respite foster care for two little ones. They were lots of fun and sweet, but I'm not used to chasing toddlers around anymore! Alyssa had the busiest summer, with clog camp, Hemophilia camp where she was a counselor assistant for the first time, and some fun day trips to water parks. She also got a lot of driving time in with her learner's permit! Jeff worked all summer-they are so short-staffed that he just couldn't get vacation time. We are considering a quick family getaway in the Fall.

So, last time I posted about my kids and their schooling, Nick had graduated High School (whew!), Alyssa was a Freshman in UTVA, and Chad was in 1st grade at the local elementary school. Things have changed! Nick is still at Job Corps but is going off-campus to the local Technical college to train to be a Composites Material technician. He is doing great and we are very proud of him! Alyssa just started her Sophomore year at UTVA yesterday. Chad is the big change-at the end of his 1st grade year, we pulled him out of public school. We were quite frustrated and unsatisfied with many aspects of his education there. We had hoped to keep him in public school for at least a few more years because he has no siblings close to his age to play with. There came a point where we knew he needed to come home for school. So he had a nice, long summer off of school (he would have only had 3 weeks off for summer break had he stayed in school) and we are ready to go next week.

I must admit, it has been many years since I homeschooled a young one, and I am apprehensive. Nick was in 1st grade 12 years ago and Alyssa 9 years ago. It seems like forever! A lot of the curriculum has changed, and there are some great new things out there! I poured through my Rainbow Resource catalog (the Homeschool curriculum bible), spent a lot of time on the internet, and finally made my choices. I'm excited for this upcoming school year-Chad is quite delayed in most every subject, so even though he is beginning 2nd grade I am starting out with 1st grade curriculum. I hope to get through 1st grade quickly and onto 2nd grade this year. He's a smart little guy-just needs the one-on-one I will be able to give him to catch up. I'm really not worried about Chad having to keep up exactly with the public school, but I know his potential and that he was lost in the crowd in school, so it is time to get busy!

I'll go into more detail on curriculum and what I'm doing in other areas in my next post.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review of 'Never Let You Go'

July 8, 2010-'Never Let You Go' by Erin Healy is the second book I have reviewed for Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I received this book for free and was not required to write a positive review. This book is a supernatural mystery/thriller and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story! Lexi is a single mother whose past has come back to haunt her in the form of her husband Grant, who abandoned her seven years earlier, as well as drug dealer Warden. Another character who emerges from her past is Norman, who is in prison for murdering Lexi's sister years earlier, an event that fractured and divided Lexi's entire family. Lexi has spent years working multiple jobs to survive, and will do anything to keep her precious daughter Molly safe. There are many complex characters in this book, and the author does a great job of having you guessing who is on the side of good or evil. This is one of those books where you have to pay close attention to everything that is happening or you may miss an important clue. It is definitely not a light read. The end of the book is very intense, and I recommend reading this for yourself.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review

May 24, 2010-I'm doing something new. It's called Booksneeze, and if you are a blogger you get free books for posting a review on your blog. There is a link at the bottom of my blog if you are interested. I love to read, so this is a great way to get free books! So, here is my first review:

I recently received a free book from Thomas Nelson publishers, in exchange for writing a review. The name of the book is 'A Summer Secret' by Kathleen Fuller, and it is book 1 in The Mysteries of Middlefield series. Thirteen-year-old Mary Beth is overwhelmed with all her brothers and chores in her Amish family. She finds refuge in an old, abandoned barn that she has been forbidden by her parents to go into. She enjoys her quiet journal and drawing time here, without being bugged by her pesky brothers. She soon discovers someone else is also using her special place, and sets out to figure out this mystery.

I enjoyed the book, although it was meant for a younger audience such as tweens/teens, who could really relate to Mary Beth. I particularly enjoy Amish fiction, and this one was right up there with others I've read that have done well at giving a true look into this lifestyle. The characters were lively, and I really felt like I knew them. The only disappointment with this book was that it wasn't very suspenseful-I could guess what the ending would be. It was still a good, light read.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Celebration and change!

May 20, 2010- Back in December, I wrote a post about the difficult time we had been having with Nick, our oldest son. The condensed version is that once he turned 18, he decided to not continue with his homeschool high school classes, and was very disrespectful, causing a lot of trouble in the home. We moved him outside to a trailer, and applied for Job Corps, with the idea being he would start Job Corps in January. So, here is the wonderful update:

January came and went, with Job Corps not ready to take him. We found out that there were some delays in the system, and that Nick may not even be able to go to Job Corps. After jumping through some hoops and praying a lot, we finally received the call with his departure date. He moved to Clearfield, Utah on April 6th. After the initial things they need to do to get him settled and acclimated, they started working on figuring out how far along he was in High School. They had his transcripts, but they can pass them off by exam on sections of courses. So, they started giving him his tests,and he kept passing them! This went on for several days, until he finished the year's tests. If the student can do this as well as pass the GED, they can get a regular diploma. He then took the GED and passed it in all areas with flying colors! We were flabbergasted! This child, whom I have homeschooled for most of his life, and I *thought* didn't pay attention to anything, actually was paying attention! It feels good to know that, and we are so very proud of him. It was a big confidence booster for Nick as well. The funny thing was that graduation was five days away! Unfortunately, this ultra-short notice meant that no family or friends could make it, but the four of us went up to Clearfield for his graduation on April 22nd. He looked so grown up in his cap and gown, and had a huge smile the entire time!

After graduation, he worked for a few weeks on career preparation. Basically they go through the different careers available and educate them on all aspects of that career. Initially, Nick had chosen Health occupations (CNA), electrician, and computer rebuilding as possibilities. Then he found out about Composites material technician, and got very excited about this career path. It is only open to students who scored high enough on math, which he did. So last week, he started travelling each day to a technology center up near where he is living to train in this field. He has passed off three packets and taken three tests, and has straight As so far!! He is just today beginning the hands-on part of the course. He is so excited about this, and as we listen to him when he calls at the end of the day, it is amazing to listen to this child have so much knowledge and enthusiasm!

He seems to be enjoying life away from home. It appears to be a strict but fun atmosphere, and he has made lots of friends. He is in a dorm with two other young men in his room, and the campus is huge and full of activities. He swims at the pool, and they have stores and a theatre to name a few things. He can stay the weekend or come home Friday evening to Sunday evening. They work through the summer except for a 2-week break in July. We've been really impressed.

We are very pleased and proud. This is certainly a lesson in how things can get better when you think they never will!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been 'passionate' about different ways to save money-I do all I can to help stretch what we have. I'm going to do a more detailed post on that later, but for now, this is one of the ways we have found to save money. We started making our own laundry detergent back in September, using a recipe found on the Duggar's website, www.duggarfamily.com. We loved the results. Then our church, in need of a building, started a fundraiser where they gave each family $50 to invest in something, to then 'grow' the money into more for the building fund. We decided to make laundry detergent! It was a big seller, and even after that $50 challenge ended, we continue to make and sell it on our own, giving all the profits to the church building fund. I'm not sure how much we have raised, but for sure we know it is several hundred dollars. The thing is, this detergent is SO INEXPENSIVE to make-like 1-2 cents a load! It is fairly easy to make as well. We make the liquid version, but you can surf the web to find other liquid recipes, and powdered versions as well. My friend Amy at lifeslittlecrazies.blogspot.com makes the powdered, and shared some with me. I really liked it as well, but prefer liquid for my HE machine. It is low/no sudsing, which is perfect for the newer machines, but fine for the older ones as well.

We mix ours up in a big 5 gallon bucket, then fill up smaller containers-old detergent containers, apple/orange juice jugs, milk jugs, anything you can think of. One thing that was mentioned on the Duggar's website, and that we noticed as well over time, is that your whites can start to look dingy. This is due to the lack of phosphates in the detergent, and adding Oxyclean will take care of it. The other thing you can do is increase the Borax, which is what we decided to do, and it helped as well.

Here are the directions:

Ingredients: 4 cups hot tap water, 1 bar Fels-Naptha soap, 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 1/2 c. Borax (we have increased to 1 cup). You will also need a cheese grater, a 5 gallon bucket, a tall spoon for stirring, and your clean, smaller containers for storing the detergent.

*Grate the bar of Fels-Naptha and add to saucepan with 4 cups hot tap water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap is melted.
*Fill a 5 gallon bucket half-full with hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda, and Borax. Stir well until powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken.
* Using a clean plastic container, fill half-full of the soap, then fill the rest of the way with water. Shake well before each use, as it will thicken.
*Optional-you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons once soap has cooled. Ideas-lavender, tea tree (my favorite).
*Yields 10 gallons of laundry detergent.

Other useful info:
*Recipe costs approximately $2.00 for 10 gallons!!
*Don't buy Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, it must be Super Washing Soda.
*You can add any laundry boosters/additives with this soap.
*Can be used to wash in all temperatures.
*Can be used as a pre-treater for tough stains.
*For regular washing machines use 1/2 cup per load, for front-loader He machines use 1/4 cup.

My next adventure: homemade dishwasher detergent!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Help Find Susan Powell!

This is my friend's sister-in-law. She is also an acquaintance's best friend. She is the mother of two small boys. Above is the flyer looking for her, and below are some links for more information.

Our friend, Susan Powell, a beautiful 28 year old Utah mother, sister, daughter, wife and friend is still missing and has been since December 7th, 2009. We’re asking you to continue helping us find her.
Can you help us? Here’s what you can do:
• Blog. We’re asking anyone who blogs or who has always wanted to blog to write just one post about Susan. For ideas, you can go to the official Find Susan Powell Blog here: http://bit.ly/findsusanblog Use the links below in your blog post and ask your readers to help.
• Follow @FindSusan (http://twitter.com/FindSusan) on Twitter and tweet about her with a link to the one of the links below. Use the #findsusan hashtag and ask your followers to retweet your message with a simple “Pls RT”.
• Go to the official YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/susanpowellsearch Watch the videos, memorize Susan’s face and features. Look around – do you see her? If you do, note her location and condition and call 9-1-1 right now.
• Here is the link to Susan’s missing posters: http://bit.ly/5LEUZB - Again, please memorize Susan’s face and look around right where you are. If you see her, please note her location and condition and call 9-1-1 immediately. Please also consider printing out a few and posting them at your local supermarket and other places nearby. We’re also looking for people who can help us translate Susan’s fliers into other languages. Currently, we’re looking for Asian languages – Japanese, Korean and Chinese. If you are fluent one of these languages or another one we need to consider, please let us know. We’re always open to helpful ideas!
• Ask your friends to email findsusanpowell@gmail.com with “I want to help” in the subject line. If there’s a specific service you can provide for us, if and when the time comes that we can use that help, we’ll email you and let you know.