February 26, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #128

Everyday Ruralty

What is your favorite kind of bread? (wheat, white, rye, sourdough, a gluten free type, etc.)
Sourdough. Hands down. Love that stuff! I wish I could keep a starter going, but I don't have much luck with them

Would you go to an opera if someone you know was in it?
I'd go to it even if I didn't know ANYONE! I love musical theater of ANY time whether Broadway style or classical. I love LIVE performances. I've seen several. I've seen Die Fleidermaus, The Elixir of Love, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Magic Flute. I loved them all. I've also seen Les Miserables once, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, High School Musical (LIVE) and best of all...Phantom of the Opera THREE times. Oh and I saw Celtic Tiger. No singing really, but that one had the Lord of the Dance in it. Which was pretty awesome.

What is your favorite kind of citrus fruit?
Pineapple? I always considered it more citrus because of how acidic it is...but I guess of the type people consider citrus, I love a good fresh ripe Ruby Red Grapefruit!

Are you doing any home renovations or decorating projects?

Hmm. Not right now. I'd like to paint...but the weather is too cold!

If you could sit in a rocking chair and view a beautiful scene, where would you be and what would you be looking at?
Hmmmm...I love many different landscapes, but there is nothing like a warm spring day here on the farm with everything blooming, the bees buzzing and the birds singing! I love to sit on my porch swing and just watch the bees and butterflies and smell my fragrant flowers!


February 25, 2014

Science4Us.com (a Curriculum Review)

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you should remember that last week I shared a post about how teaching Science in homeschool was my weakness. Of all the subjects, it is the one I have always dreaded the most...even though we all LOVE Science. I just can't handle all that goes into the teaching of it.  Needless to say, when I had the chance to do a curriculum review of Science4Us.com, I jumped on the chance in hopes that I could find something to help me conquer that subject once and for all!

Science4Us Review

What is Science4Us.com?

Science4Us.com is a K-2 online science curriculum. Science4Us.com offers a unique science experience as you can keep track of and plan out all your student's assignments, print off lesson plans, have the students maintain a digital notebook, print and use offline material, and complete science modules with games and experiments...all in one place and in one online program. There will soon even be apps available for your mobile devices in 2014.

The Science4Us.com Online Subscription is available for just $7.95/month per student. That means that you can get one full year for your student for less than $100!

How Did We Use Science4Us.com?

For this review, we were given a free 6 month subscription to use in our family.

I began by watching several of the fabulous demo videos that are provided for the parent/teacher as well as the student. They were incredibly knowledgeable and helped me learn the basics of how to use the program.
The videos are near the bottom of the student AND the parent/teacher screens as well as scattered around other spots. This website is VERY easy to navigate.

The first module that we completed was Physical Science: Simple Machines. When we started, I didn't know the full extent of the program, as I hadn't learned about the lesson plans yet—but that didn't stop us from enjoying it!

By the end of the week Little Britches was able to use all the vocabulary terms as well as accurately identify simple machines that we see in our day to day lives. At breakfast, while using his knife to get jelly, he informed me that we had levers to help us eat breakfast and correctly identified all of them and how they work. He was able to accurately tell me all six simple machines and a description of how they are used with examples of each one. He could even explain their ultimate purpose: "to use less force to move a greater distance".

This tied in beautifully with our trip to the South Carolina State Museum in January where he experienced how a pulley works. In their hands-on-Science exhibit he tried lifting a weight with three different pulley systems and thus learned that you can multiply the number of simple machines to create even less force needed to lift objects. We went to this museum, the Friday right before we started our Simple Machines module! Perfect timing!

Because we already had Science as part of our regular curriculum (even if I didn't do it regularly), I tried to find a module on Science4Us.com that matched the subject we were exploring each week. I was able to match us up for 4 of our 6 weeks we completed in the program.

We completed five other modules including:
*Life Science: Living vs. Non-Living
*Life Science: Animals
*Life Science: Plants
*Physical Science: States of Matter
*Physical Science: Electrical Energy

After the first week, I explored, watched the rest of the demo videos, and discovered the awesome Teacher’s Lab with instructions and details about each of the lessons within each modules. It gives you approximate minutes that the lesson should take, and questions for you to ask the student after they complete each activity. Did I mention there are printable lesson plans?? They give suggestions for taking the lesson offline too. If you have a group of students doing this together this is a great way to break it down for individualized work! The activities are separated out by grade level—K, 1st and 2nd.

I loved that I could go on and see which activities Little Britches had completed in each module AND the scores for each evaluation.
(click to enlarge)
I also accessed Little Britches notebook and could see not only what was completed by him for each lesson, but I could also add my own notes on them. I was given the vocabulary terms each module focuses on, which allowed me to incorporate them into our discussions throughout the week.

Once I discovered the quick assign section in the teacher’s lab, I typically assigned Little Britches 2-3 of the lessons within the module per day, unless they were the shorter puzzles and games.  This would typically take about 20 minutes each day. I tried to space it out over the week, doing science five days...with the evaluation always as the last assignment.

If there was an offline assignment with any of the lessons, we would complete it after he was done with the online lesson.
This was an offline activity from States of Matter module
The offline assignments always tied in with various lessons from the modules and allowed him to demonstrate what he had learned in the days instruction.

When Little Britches logged on, it took him directly to his student lab.
(Click to enlarge)
Here he could see any assignments that I had given him and then simply click on the first one and begin.

Within each of the main lessons there were discussion questions. When these came up, I would direct Little Britches in answering them—something very easy to do without having to be right by him. The program read the questions aloud and then he could just tell me the answers and I could guide him in this responses. The lesson plans always made those questions available to me in advance so that I would be prepared.

What Do the Boys Think About Science4Us.com?

Little Britches is always eager to try any curriculum requiring the computer. Once he experienced Science4Us.com the first time, he fell in love! He loves the characters that are part of the program especially because they are kind of silly. He loves the videos and says that they make it easy for him to learn. He likes the games and puzzles that are part of the lessons and rarely asks me for any help.

He says that the hardest part is using the digital notebook as he can’t always get it to do what he wants. I know that part of this is because he’s using my laptop and I don’t have a separate mouse for it. Manipulating the mouse pad that is on the laptop can be difficult. He also doesn't have very good control with using the controls on the digital notebook, but he still enjoys it.

He takes great joy out of the final weekly evaluations and has only gotten less than 100% one week. He’s always trying to winkle out of me what he’ll be studying the next week.

He also discovered the science music player that is on his home lab page. He turns it on and listens to the music while he goes back over all the entries in his notebook.

He has told me that he hopes he uses it “forever and ever!” LOL!

Baby Britches is too young to use it alone, so he just sits and watches Little Britches use it.
He just takes it all in and when asked by his brother contributes answers. I know that when he’s old enough, he will enjoy using it himself.

What Are My Thoughts About Science4Us.com?

Remember my recent post about how Science is the subject I hate to teach the most? After our experiences with Science4Us.com I can happily say that this is no longer the case! This site really is a complete curriculum for K-2nd grade science and very user friendly.

I love that I can easily access all the available modules and find one to match what we are studying in our My Father's World science. I was able to do this when studying living things—using both the animal and plant units. If nothing matches than I just choose one that I think he will enjoy—which so far is everything! LOL! I also appreciate the ability to schedule out assignments for the module—planning multiple weeks in advance if I so desire! Each module is scheduled to take 2 weeks (4 days each week) but I think that really is only relevant to a large classroom. Having just one student means that you go a lot faster and we just did these over a five day week.

I like that I can give Little Britches the computer time he so craves and the science he loves. It’s the best of both worlds. I know that he’s getting a great experience with science in the way he learns best—a combination of auditory and visual instruction!

My favorite aspect as a teacher is the lesson planning page.
Science4Us Review
(click to enlarge)
After clicking on various links I figured out how to get printable offline assignments that tie in to various lessons within the modules. When I am planning out the week, I always click on the links to see what is available for the lesson. I have made use of this for all the weeks of lessons except the first one we did—as we did it before I discovered this page.

Another great part of this program is that your child gets to participate in lab experiments---without messing up your kitchen! The program has it set up so that they can “dump”, “spill”, “pour”, and “throw” items as part of labs and then record their results.
A click of the mouse and you can dump liquids to observe how far they travel...without any mess!
This is great if you aren't into doing experiments in your homeschool because of their supply lists (that you never have all of), the potential for messes (and the cleanup!), and the planning time they require. You don’t have to worry about any of that!

The website is very easy to use--and if you watch the demo videos FIRST you will have navigation of the site down pat. I navigated it easily even before I discovered the videos, but they showed me things I hadn't found yet.

Are There Any Cons?

This IS an online curriculum and in some ways that is really good, but as we have just one computer working right now, it means that it ties that one computer up. So the fact that it's an online curriculum can also be a con for us.

A second issue is that there ISN'T any hands-on Science. There are a lot of things you will only learn by doing them hands-on--especially when it comes to the experiments. So while NOT having them be hands-on could be a pro, it can also be a con in that it takes away a certain aspect of learning.

Another con is that there are a few kinks in the program. Sometimes there were black spots on the screen during the video lessons. They weren't a problem, just annoying at times. And on just one of our modules we had an activity that would never get marked as completed. None of these things were serious and I'm sure that if you desired you could send a message to their customer service about it. We didn't because it only happened to us with the one module.

My #1 con that I have is…that it’s only good through about 2nd grade level science and that there is only about 1 to 1 ½ years of curriculum available!! I would LOVE to be able to continue to use this program for a few more years with Little Britches.

All in all, the cons are minor and don't take away from the fabulousness of this program.

Try Science4Us.com!

Science4Us.com is definitely an excellent program and we will enjoy using it for the rest of our 6 month trial...and I will be recommending it to all my friends seeking a science curriculum for their K-2nd graders. I also plan on using it in a couple years for Baby Britches and I know he will be eager to use it himself after having to just watch his brother for so long.

Remember, that you can get the Science4Us.com Online Subscription for just $7.95/month per child. If Science is one of your trouble subjects like mine, or if you are looking to provide your child with some more independent learning time, or if you are seeking out an excellent well rounded Science curriculum, then this is definitely something to check out!

You can follow Science4Us.com on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to stay in the know with their latest news and updates!

Are you ready to see what some of other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of the curriculum? Click on the banner below and enjoy reading their thoughts!

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I have one more curriculum review for this week...but it's not until Friday. But before you go, make sure you check out yesterday's curriculum review on KinderBach the online piano lesson program!

February 24, 2014

KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Program (a review)

If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you know that I teach piano lessons. I am a small-town teacher with just about 10 regular students (age 6-16). I love teaching and while I really enjoy the successful program I have laid out for my students, I am always curious to see how others teach piano. This curiosity was sparked again upon discovering that the first company for 2014 the Schoolhouse Review team collaborated with was KinderBach, an online piano lesson program. I happily signed up to be a reviewer, because I was very interested to giving this program a try!
Kinderbach Review

What is KinderBach?

KinderBach is a video and online piano lesson program designed for children ages 3-7...an age group that most piano teachers prefer not to teach due to the child's young age, lack of reading skills and fluency, and short attention span. Karri Gregor, the creator and teacher of the program, uses colorful illustrations, fun videos and characters, songs, coloring sheets and rhythm instruments to capture the child's interest and teach about basic music theory and keyboard knowledge.

While they initially started as a DVD program, KinderBach is now offering The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner. As of the date of this writing you can get this membership for $95.88 per year. Regular price is $130. When you calculate that out, it’s just $7.99/month for a year!

As a piano teacher I can assure you that you will not find that price anywhere else for piano lessons for a weekly lesson...much less for a whole month of lessons!

Kinderbach ReviewAs part of the online piano lesson membership you will get:
* Access to all web lessons (over 240 sessions!) by computer...you can also access it via iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire or Nook. This means you can take the program with you wherever you go!

* All the accompanying printable pdf pages--just print and use!

* Access to all Teacher Corner materials for Levels 1 to 6...including MP3's, PDF's, teachers guides and more!

* All the miscellaneous story books, worksheets, games and song sheets the program has to offer!

A year's membership will grant you access to the full program from Level 1 to Level 6 giving your student all the information they need to start them on their path for musical fluency!

Worried about needing to know music yourself as the parent to use this program? Don't be! There is a great "parent's guide" that lays out a lot of things for you about the program--including basic items relating to the things the student will be learning. Because you have access to the Teacher Corner, you have everything you need to provide your student with online lessons--including lesson plans, a teacher aid book, a teacher guide book, a student book as well as a goal book and certificates for lesson completion! It truly is an all-in-one program for learning piano.

Don't have a keyboard or piano yet? KinderBach even includes printable piano sheets (they look just like the keys on the piano) which work perfectly well for the first several weeks before actual playing of specific notes is required...though tablets, notebooks and iPads have keyboard apps which work great too!

How did we use the KinderBach piano lesson program?

Little Britches just turned eight and Baby Britches is three; therefore, I have a child at each end of the range this program is designed for. While Baby Britches has not had a single piano lesson with me yet, Little Britches had about 8 months worth of lessons, before we quit at summertime last year. He came into the KinderBach program with some experience, but as it has been awhile since his last formal lesson, I wasn't sure how much he had retained.

We have been able to go from week #1 to week #9 in the few weeks that we have been reviewing this product. Each week of the program contains four lessons and it is suggested that you use it 3-4 times per week. Every week begins with an introduction video which preps not only the student, but the parent for what is going to be taught during the week and what supplies will be needed. This is very helpful for planning purposes. Each of the lesson videos is short. Some are no longer than three minutes, while others are about seven minutes. Because they are so short, I just had them do two lessons per day, using KinderBach four times a week. We easily knocked out two weeks of lessons per week. We'd be even further along in the program, but the boys request certain lessons to be played over and over because they enjoy them so much.

I set the boys up to do the KinderBach program together. I would log in each day to our account. You can bookmark your session you are working on with your toolbar, or you can log in and just find it in the main page for members log-in that has every lesson listed. While I was logging in, I had them get out their color crayons and rhythm instruments.

Their "instruments" were a container from my cupboard and a spatula. But each boy had his own and played it with glee.

I set up my laptop on the coffee table so that they not only had work space for any worksheets that needed to be filled out, but so they could stand up and move around as the lesson required if needed.
kinderbach piano lesson review

If they needed to "go to the keyboard" for a lesson, we simply picked up the laptop and put it on top of our piano so they could easily see it and follow along.
You can see the laptop on the left side of the piano in this photo. I kept a space cleared off for it since we used it there quite regularly. Both boys used the piano at the same time and would just decide who was going to sit where and then they'd go for it.

When you use the videos, if there is a printout needed, it will show up below the video lesson. 
You can see it here on this screenshot from a lesson we did last week. I added the arrow to show you where you would find the icon. Simply click on the printer icon and it opens a separate window showing the document. Using this, you can see whether it's a repeat or something you need to printout for use that day. You can easily go through a whole week and print them out in advance. Some of these I printed out a copy for each boy and some I didn't--I only printed two copies if it was a coloring page/worksheet.

I blocked out 15-20 minutes on the days we did KinderBach. This gave us enough time to not only do our two lessons, but to do any extras that might come with them--or simply watch the videos multiple times. (This was usually what happened. LOL!) By them working together, Little Britches could guide Baby Britches on anything he wasn't understanding.

How did each boy respond to the KinderBach lessons?

Baby Britches (age 3 1/2) absolutely adores KinderBach. He runs to the coffee table when it's time for our session. He races to the cupboard to grab out his rhythm instruments and then asks me if I need him to get anything from the printer. He would do KinderBach for at least an hour if I let him...just watching one video after another.
kinderbach review piano lesson
By the point we are at now (starting week #9 of Level 1), he easily identifies the two and three black key groups on the piano. He can play them when asked with the correct fingering. He sings both the two black key song (Dodi's house) and the three black key song (Train Station song) with glee. He can identify a "walk" note vs a "standing" note. And he can successfully play series of "walk" notes (aka. quarter notes) using his rhythm instrument. He can identify whether a sound is loud or soft and high or low. It's been a HUGE success for him.

Little Britches (just turned 8) is approaching it differently. He already HAD music training so this is actually incredibly easy for him. In fact I would venture to say he's WAY beyond anything we are covering right now, as he already can identify and read notes on music and find them on the piano...something that isn't a part of the program at this stage of the game.
kinderbach review piano lesson program
He already KNEW the difference between two black key and three black key patterns and he knew (and demonstrated memory) of the difference between walk (quarter) notes and standing (half) notes. He does enjoy the coloring pages. He enjoys the videos. But other than just one or two with songs he especially likes (the Beat Bugs!) he grows bored if Baby Britches wants to watch something over and over. Does this mean he doesn't want to do it? Absolutely not! He still enjoys it...but it is NOT challenging for him, nor is he really learning anything new at this point.

The one thing I have noticed however, is that this program, though incredibly easy for him, has rekindled his desire to play the piano! He is pulling out his old books again and playing from them without me asking him too. This is something he wouldn't willingly do at all prior to starting the KinderBach program. I am incredibly thankful for this as I was desiring to start back up his lessons.

I look forward to continuing on with the program as we finish our 6 month trial to see if things change as we move up the levels of difficulty.

What are my thoughts on the KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Program?

I'm going to share my thoughts on this program first as a parent based on our experience with weeks #1-8. This program is absolutely great for young children. It has been a gentle introduction to not just the piano, but music training in general. Even though I have a history and background in music, I would still be able to easily use it and assist my children without it. The Parent Guide is excellent and the teacher's guides and lesson plans are easy to follow. KinderBach does basically all the work for you! The parent's biggest job is to print the material that is needed and turn it on!

Notice I said young children...I believe that this program is definitely for the seven and under age range. I would even go so far as to say it's geared towards the Preschool and Kindergarten range specifically. Even if he didn't have a background in music to draw from, Little Britches would have become just as bored with it, as it goes at SUCH a slower pace. On the other hand, this makes it IDEAL for Baby Britches, who at 3 1/2 is soaking up every word and every instruction. He remembers all that he's been taught and if you ask him, he can demonstrate his knowledge.

As a parent I would highly recommend this program to someone looking to get their Preschool/Kindergarten age child into a beginning music program, as it really does do an excellent job at introducing the keyboard and music theory to that age group. If you have a child closer to the 1st/2nd grade level, I would recommend it with hesitations. If they had any background in music at all, I'd advise you to go with something else--especially if they've had piano training. But if they were a "blank slate"...I would say that this is going to be okay; however, be prepared to move quickly as they will learn it fast.
kinderbach piano lesson review

Now I want to share my thoughts on this program from the piano teacher (with over 12 years of experience) point of view, as I believe this allows me a deeper analysis of the program. Long story short--KinderBach's creator Karri Gregor is brilliant! She clearly understands children and the way that they learn, as she incorporates visual, auditory and kinesthetic aspects into the curriculum. By keeping each lesson short she doesn't have to worry about attention span issues.

Her use of characters (she has one for every note, as well as characters for remembering things like beats and fingering) and colorful images is eye catching and memorable--critical to teaching a subject like music to any age, especially young children. She fills her lesson with songs that I hear my boys singing randomly during the day. She really does offer a phenomenal program for this tricky age group.

There were several times as I was listening in on the boys lessons that I would go "Oh! Why didn't I think of that?!" In fact, I've even incorporated her use of the words "walk" and "standing" as just a quick tip for my own young students struggling with note timing.

As a piano teacher I can tell you that I avoid the 3-5 year old age group because I just don't have a piano program set up to teach that age group. This program is truly filling a need that is definitely there in the music education world. There is also a need for online piano lessons because there just aren't enough piano teachers! KinderBach's online piano lesson program is a necessity to help with this problem!

If I had to pick a word to describe this program and how it progresses, I would choose the word...gentle. There is no rush to teach a concept. There isn't a pile of information to pour into a memory to spit out later. She makes learning gentle and fun, which allows for excellent retention. That is ideal for the Preschool and Kindergarten age group!

If every child came to me for piano lessons with KinderBach as a background, it would make my job a million times easier as a teacher!

Though our review is completed, we will be continuing to use this program throughout the remainder of our 6 month free trial because the boys do enjoy it so much--and it's perfect for my 3 year old to prep him for the piano lessons I will be giving him soon.

Can you use KinderBach only as an online piano lesson program?

While my review was on The Kinderbach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, this is NOT the only way you can access the program! If online lessons aren't for you, then make sure you check out the DVD and CD package! This is the perfect choice if you want to be able to use a large screen (your TV!), don't want to be tied to a computer for the sessions, or if you have a slow internet connection.

But if you have a laptop, an iPad, tablet, Nook, etc...the online lessons really are a great way to go because of the convenience! Remember that as of the writing of this review you can get The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner for just $95.88/year--which works out to just $7.99/month. If you compared that to a even small-town piano teacher like me--well, you are looking at an average savings of about $32-42 per month just in lesson costs (at $10/week)--not to mention NO book fees and NO gas expense!

I also want to add that if you are a Preschool or daycare teacher and interested in using this program, there is a classroom version that is available!

If you are curious to see how this program will work for your own family, why not head on over and check out the FREE LESSONS? Yes, you can have access to the first two weeks for FREE to see how it works! There is even a 30 day Money Back Guarantee for the program! I really think that it's worth the try if you have children in the 3-7 age group and are looking to introduce music to their day!

Do you use Facebook? You can follow KinderBach and stay in touch with updates and new material!
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I hope that you have found my review of this music program useful! I know that there is a great need by homeschool families to have a good music program and many would be interested in online piano lessons. Make sure you click the banner below to go see how this program worked for other Schoolhouse Review Crew families!
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Have a beautiful day! And keep stopping by this week as I will have more curriculum reviews to share!

Poppins Book Nook for February~ Discovering Presidents!

Can you believe it's already the last week of the month? I don't know about you, but my February was spent hunkering down from all the cold weather and winter snows! I'm ready to see the end of this month if it's another day closer to warm spring! But, cold weather means a lot of time for reading with the boys and this month we spent a little time focused on the theme of Presidents! In our history we are learning about the founding fathers and early President's of the USA so it tied in perfectly!

My favorite books for learning about famous people in a concise and easy to understand story line are the Discovery Readers. They are written at a 2.5 level which I consider to be for the K-3 grades depending on the level of reading your student has. Little Britches can whip through them, but that's okay because it means he easily understands and comprehends the information. The illustrations are colorful and there is usually some humor included into each story.

Discovery Readers has several books related to presidents including:

These books really give a summary of each man's life, from childhood to the early years of their adulthood to their presidency and beyond.

We actually did a craft this month too! On President's Day (last Monday), we reviewed what we knew about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (we've studied more on the former than the later) and then we made George Washington masks using the directions from a Pinterest idea I found.

These were supposed to have a popsicle stick to hold them up, but we went a bit overboard on the cotton balls and that made them too heavy! LOL! 

Poppins Book Nook is having another giveaway this month! This month's book is So You Want to be President by Judith St. George. I hope you will get entered to win this great book! All my email subscribers get a free entry!
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Want to check out what some of my Poppins Book Nook Co-Hosts did this month too?

Now it's your turn! Link up any of YOUR posts relating to President's day books or crafts or printables! We'd love to see what you have come up with! And don't forget to *like* us on Facebook with our Poppins Book Nook page!


February 21, 2014

Random 5 on Friday~ Feb. 21

The Pebble Pond

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1. Today at the local library, it was Storytime. One of the books that was read was about a little creature that signed up for her first library card. After Storytime was over, another little girl and my baby britches went over and signed up for THEIR first library card! Baby Britches the book Snuggle Puppy as his very first book...he's pretty excited!

2. It's a baking day today! Our church Ladies Club is tomorrow and we always bring snacks. I am making some Biscones (LOVE these), a cheeseball (always requested by the senior ladies), some ice tea, and some deviled eggs. The weather has made almost 2 dozen of our farm fresh eggs cracked! We've had so many stuck to the bottom of the carton. And even after I picked out the 12 best eggs for boiling, the minute they hit boiling water at least 9 of them showed that they were cracked. Grrr. Oh well. They will still taste good!

3. Little Britches received his final birthday present in the mail today. My parents bought him the complete nine book boxed set of the Little House books. We had almost all of them, but they were old and yellow with torn brittle covers. My mom says that they were the ones she bought when I was 3 years old (!!!) and that they were used when SHE bought them! Needless to say we needed them and he was VERY happy to get them. I was too. I hated how brittle the pages were.

4. Did I mention it's sunny outside??? We've had about 3 straight days of sunshine and breeze. Okay. Actually it's windy. VERY windy. Poor Little Britches got the screen/glass door in his face thanks to the wind ripping it out of my hand and flinging it open. Last night we had a MAJOR storm roll through. It was thunder filled and the rain was coming down so hard we couldn't hear the TV! We have a metal roof over our porch so that makes it EXTRA noisy.

5. I was kinda of peeved about the loud rain because I was watching another Doctor Who episode. I am a late bloomer to the Doctor Who phenomenon. I finally was like--"Okay, I'll watch one episode and that's it." Um...Two Doctors and 42 episodes later........LOL! Seriously I can't explain it except that it's just so fun to watch! It's lighthearted and fun and quirky. Love-Of-My-Life watched 2 episodes with me at the start and then gave up. Then about 10 episodes ago he decided to give it a go again. He was shocked to see that there was a different doctor (had to explain that) and he admitted it was better. Like B rated sci-fi movie. But he tolerates it. LOL! Now I don't have to ask for it...he'll just turn it on. And I think he was frankly a bit miffed (though he won't admit it!) that I watched 3 episodes without him this week--since they were part 2 and 3 of the Season 3 finale and then the Season 4 premier. (snicker) But there was no way I could leave the poor Doctor hanging in a "to be continued..." state for that long! Well, I could have. But I felt like catching up.

[ETA: I don't watch much TV. In fact I don't even turn on the "live" news or even The Weather Channel unless my hubby is home and as soon as he leaves the house I turn it off. I only have one show--Doctor Who--that I personally enjoy and I watch it on Netflix. I have gone weeks without watching any shows...but it's nice to just have a show to enjoy now and then.]

That's a wrap! Have an excellent weekend!

February 18, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #127

Everyday Ruralty

Have you been watching the Olympics?
No. I like to check the medal count. And I like to catch videos of performances. But this year we aren't watching anything. I did have to watch the ice dancing though. That always amazes me. I am so happy our couple finally snagged the gold!!

Does the grey winter affect your moods?
Mmm. Not very much I don't think. I'm a very positive person so I try to find the good and beauty in the grey. But I admit--there is a massive mood shift when the sun breaks through the clouds--like today! I'm all for the promise of Spring!

When was the last time you held a baby?
Oh let's see. A newborn? Last summer. It was heavenly. I'd love to be holding one of my own. But that doesn't seem to be in the immediate future plans for us right now according to God. But I will happily hold babies any time I can!

Do you do a thorough spring cleaning each year?
Yes and no. My house gets a cleaning as we deleaven in preparation for the Spring Feasts. But we don't go overboard or I tend to lose my focus on the purpose of it. So I save our spring cleaning for about May when I can have the windows open as I scrub them and do my floors and such. I love spring days like that, don't you?!

Please tell Wendell a bedtime story. He asked. I said I'd ask you.If you don't feel that creative, tell him a favorite book you think he might like. please:)
I don't have a story to tell...but I did finish a good book recently! You can read my thoughts A Match Made in Texas as part of my Fresh from the Bookshelf blogger book review series!


February 17, 2014

Fresh from the Bookshelf: A Match Made in Texas (a Review)

You know you are going to be in for a treat, when the next book you are going to review is a novella collection written by four of the top female inspirational romance authors on the market right now. When the book is a series of short romance stories set in the late 1800's, in a town called Dry Gulch deep in the heart of Texas...well, you better just find a good place to relax, grab your favorite drink and enjoy the next few hours as your travel into the Wild West!
book review match made in texas
This book was an easy pick from the books to review list, because not only do I love historical fiction, but I also love novellas. The fact that these novellas are each written by 4 of my favorite writers of the Inspiration Fiction genre was just icing on the cake.

A Match Made in Texas focuses on the town of Dry Gulch, TX in the late 1800's. Each novella in this book begins with a mysterious set up of a bachelor with a lovely bachelorette by an "anonymous" source. Through a lot of hilariousness, matching of wits, and setbacks, these four couples find love. In the fourth story, you finally meet the "anonymous" matchmaker--and get to go along for the ride when she finds a love of her own too. 

Out of the four novellas included, I think that I enjoyed the second one the most. An Unforseen Match by Regina Jennings is the tale of Grace and Clayton. The heroine Grace is a former schoolteacher forced to leave her much loved job because she's going blind. Thanks to the generosity of the town and with a little help from her friends, she is set up in a recently vacated home on a small farm...but it's definitely a definite fixer-upper. She gets help from a mysterious stranger named Clayton lured by a anonymously written classified ad for a handyman. Clayton intends this to be a temporary stop--only to make enough money to continue on to Oklahoma for the big land rush...but there is something about Grace that just might keep him from moving on.

I felt that of all the stories, it had the best plot. I also think it had the most back-story on each character. I loved Grace's independent spirit in spite of her rapidly onset blindness. I also love Clayton's attentiveness to her need for independence and how he encourages her even when he sees her getting downhearted. I really wanted it to go on and on and I was happy to see a brief mention of Clayton and Grace in the final story.

Of the four stories I think the story that needed the most added to it was probably the final novella about the matchmaker herself. In Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy we meet our tenderhearted meddler (who I will not name so as not to spoil it for you!!) and learn of her long held crush on the banker's son. When her world is turned upside down, it is our little matchmaker who becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme! I didn't feel like there was enough background on each of the characters. It was too rushed. I really was hoping for more as this character is the linchpin for all the other stories and I wanted to know a lot more about her. But I guess that's the downside of a novella! It's short!

So, how would I rate this book?

If all the novellas had been as well done as An Unforseen Match I easily would have given it 4 or 4 1/2 stars...but it was still a good book and one I would recommend to all of you Inspirational Historical Fiction lovers!

Want to check out some of my other book reviews?

Fired Up by Mary Connealy
The Governess of Highland Hill by Carrie Turansky
Rebellious Heart by Judy Hedlund
Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden