Friday, September 23, 2016

Shabbat Shalom

Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall Book Review

Family, community, faith, and love.
These “quilt blocks” sewn together made Ariana’s beautiful life.
When they are pulled to pieces,
will anything familiar remain?

The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?

At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.

New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?
My Thoughts:

Fraying at the Edge is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series. This book can stand alone without the first book overall. I think you would be missing out if you don’t read the first book with a history building up to this book. I would still recommend reading the first book as it will make this story so much more meaningful.

Cindy does it again with drawing you into the story and capturing your heart with the characters and plot.

What would you do if you were in the modern world and suddenly have to be in an Amish community or an Amish having to be in the modern world after 20 years? It would be culture shock. Ariana and Skylar were switched at birth due to a freak fire at the hospital where the girls went home with the wrong parents.

Ariana was looking forward to marriage to a man she is engaged too and she just opened a café. Ariana has to go live with her Englisch biological parents to save a mid-wife in her community from going to jail due to the accident of her being given to the wrong parents.

Ariana has a bucket list to do while living in the world at the request of her atheist biological father. She has to get a driver’s license, iPhone, puts away her Amish clothing, go on 4 dates, and so much more. She struggles with her  trying to understand why this is happening to her.

The only person Ariana can contact is Quill Schlabach, former Amish man that she had feeling for before he left the Amish community.

Skylar is not happy living with her birth parents in a backward world with no technology and she is determined to keep everyone a distance. Family has a way of tugging at your heart.

I’m not going to give away the story. What a wonderful heartfelt story. With a big cliffhanger that now I have to wait to see what happens.

I received a free copy of this product from Blogging for Books- Waterbrook in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this information accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Thursday, September 22, 2016 Review

My kids are growing up in a different world than I did. With the internet, emails, and all sorts of technology has forced parents to have to be much more diligent about protecting our kids. The reality is that kids need to be able to learn these skills to function in today’s world. I was thrilled to receive an Annual Subscription from to let my son spread his wings and learn the skills needed to be able to email friends and family.


With you have an option to set up 6 accounts with your Annual Subscription for your children.

Features include:

Mail Monitoring-With every email your child sends or receives you will also receive a copy in your email to view. This can be turned on or off at any time easily.

Block Senders- You can block certain email recipients. You can set up a message if you want to let the individual know that they are being blocked.

Contact Manager-This is a list of emails that you deem safe for your children. I can set it up for them to only receive emails from this list.

Mail Alert Queue-If an email is outside of the contact list I set up the emails go into a queue that only I see. If the email  doesn’t meet my approval I can delete it without worrying about my son intercepting the email. This function is only available if I set up the email for only receiving emails on the child’s contact list.

Spam Filter-No worrying about getting all that spam email into your kid’s inbox.

Time Restrictions-I can manage what times they are able to access to their email. I can set this up by day and by the hour. This is a great feature if you don’t want your kids looking at email during school hours or in the wee hours of the night.

GPS Tracking-This is a Smartphone feature that I can monitor and see where my child has been if they have their mobile device with them.

Grounding-I can ground my child from email. I can set the time frame of grounding with what I have imposed for a time period or for days.

Ad Free-No advertising is done with and so no worry about inappropriate pesky ads popping up.

Folders-Your child can set up folders to manage and organize their emails.

Customized Backgrounds-Your child can choose their own background theme with a nice selection to choose from.

A few other features: I can customize it not to receive or send links from the internet. I can filter out inappropriate language from senders. can be used on a computer, Kindle app, iOS app, or an Android app. It’s a nice feature that is very versatile.
There are two options for you to select. One is for younger kids and the other is with older kids. The older kids have more control over their email with the perimeters you set up for them.
For younger kids who still need assistance with reading you can set it up to have the email read back to them.

There is also a Drawing Board to make their own masterpieces within their emails. This is a fun feature to send grandparents drawings.

The older kids have more freedom and yet it is still safe. One main difference is that the younger ones have their Username@ and the older kids have Username@ which doesn’t make them feel like a kid with the word in their email address. Pretty clever and I am glad they did that for an option.

Not sure about letting your kids email? They have a free 30 day trial period to see if it’s something that would work for your family. 

How have I been using in my home?
I choose to use this with my 10 year old son who is growing up way to fast. I felt that he was responsible enough to use the older account. He has been asking me for his own email for awhile. I just haven’t felt comfortable with some of the free email account options out there. He was pretty excited to finally have his own email!  

Setting up the account was extremely easy. After choosing to have him use the older account option I then decided that I didn’t want any links that could he could hit and go who knows where on the internet. He had a friend send him a link to a gaming mouse that he wanted my son to see. I was able to verify it first and then we could copy the link and put it in the web browser. 

Next, you set up time restrictions. Which, I played around with this option so I could see how it worked. Basically, I set up a few days to not have him look at his email during school hours.
We put in family contacts and asked some of his friends for their email address so we could put them in his contact list.

I choose the option of receiving a copy of incoming and outgoing mail. 

Choosing a background was the hardest part as they have 30+ options. Little Man went with a wolf theme. You can change the background often. So far he is happy with his background choice.
Originally, we planned to download the app on his Kindle but, his Kindle broke. I will download it when he has a new one. He has a birthday coming up fast.

Little Man found that you have all the same options that a regular email has. You can adjust font, size, spell checker, make letters bold, and so on.

One thing that I learned quickly is that I had to teach him that emailing is different than texting. He doesn’t have a smart phone and so texting is not so simple with his current phone. He abbreviates a lot when sending me text messages. He tried to at first do this with email. It was a good time to teach him some etiquette with writing an email. He had to really think about what he was typing to the other individual and make sure that his grammar, spelling, and so on was correct. I love this option as he was learning skills and not thinking he was learning because, it was just way too fun emailing others. He didn’t want his friends and family think he couldn’t spell!

He also had a chance to email a few of the other boys from the Homeschool Review Crew. He thought this was great emailing other kids from other states and learning about them.

Would I change anything? I haven’t had any issues and have been pleased with it all.

Overall, I am real happy with This has made my son very happy and I am happy that he can grow up some and spread his wings and learn how to email others. The best part is that I know he is safe from all the junk that is other there on the internet.

Don’t just take my word for it. See what the others are saying on the Homeschool Review Crew about

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Kansas State Fair and the Kids 2016

This year the kids and I actually made it up to the State Fair to participate in the 4-H happenings. Usually, in the past we had others take the projects in for us and pick them up. This year we went up there ourselves.

 Sweet Bug standing by her boxes. She was able to help out this year. She helped count all the insects in the boxes to help prepare for judging.
She received a purple ribbon at the state this year. She loved seeing all the boxes across the state rather than just our county. She now has a bigger list of bugs she wants to collect.
 I had to help her count how many insects and orders are in each box.
 Next year we plan on going up again and getting involved more with 4-H and helping out.

Bug received a purple ribbon on her Challah Bread and a blue ribbon on her photography.

Little Man was a bit bored as we hung around entomology for the most part this year. He received a purple ribbon on his photograph.
Everyone told us that we had to go see the yearly butter sculpture. Amazing, watching the individual work on it. A lot of butter for sure. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016 a TOS Crew Review

It never fails every year I find I need other resources to help supplement our curriculum. I like it when I can find a lot of resources in one place. Not to mention at one price for everything. Recently, that one place has been . I received an annual subscription to their Digital Product CHSH Download Club. Membership can be purchased for a year for $25.00 or a Lifetime membership of $99.00.
What is acronym stands for The Christian Homeschool Hub. Amazingly there are over 50,000 pages of educational materials for K-12 to download and print on one site.  is created by Lynda Ackert, a former public teacher turned homeschool mom. 

One feature that I like is the home page has a “This Day in History Calendar”.  I have always wanted to incorporate something like this in our daily homeschool. I’m not there yet, just from the front page I could easily shout this information out.

From there you go up to the Download Club tab and click on the, “search for download” from the drop down. 

Not only can you find single topics but, there are full curriculums in several several subjects. You also have unit studies and lapbooks. Material is still being added to the site.

From the menu you can search by subject, grade, topic, months, organization, and by miscellaneous topics. There is also a search bar to save time. There is more than just downloading printables here. You can summit your printables to the site to share. 

Once you find what you are looking for you click on it and a PDF opens that you can save or print it. There is also a forum to chat with other members and a blog.

Let’s talk about the plethora of material! 

 Arts, Music, Crafts
 Language Arts
Social Studies
General Organization
Classroom Helps
Curriculum “Treasures” from the Past
Fun Pages
Lapbooking and Notebooking Pages

It’s very easy to navigate around The Christian Homeschool Hub site.

How did I use The Christian Homeschool Hub in my homeschool?

I don’t even know where to start as we have utilized so many resources from The Christian Homeschool Hub. I spent the first few days exploring the site and taking notes of the many things that I thought would work in our homeschool.

One portion that grabbed my attention was the Forms for planning and Record Keeping for this coming school year. They have a nice form for keeping attendance. I sat down with the kids and we set up a Reading Log of the books they are required to read this year.  I set goals for the kids this coming year and wrote out a schedule. I would love it if these particular forms could be edible so I could type in the information.

Another one that I liked was a Character Trait unit that covers 40 week unit with an impressive 40 character traits to go over. I didn’t have the suggested book but, it’s on my, to do list in a few weeks.

I did focus on the Astronomy/Space Science since we are studying that topic this year. I had my kids do some of the planet coloring page and the solar system info graphic. I printed out the moon phases cards. My 10 year old son start reading the Guide to the Stars. Which this is an impressive 161 pages. He likes the material in it and hasn't complained about reading it.

My 13 year old daughter with learning disabilities is obsessed with insects. Bug has loved the Entomology section and is quite advanced in that particular subject. She has been working in the High school Science in the Entomology. She is having me read to her the Butterflies and Moths which is 360 pages. Her favorite resource is the “Let’s Color Some Insects Coloring Book” that has 27 pages to color. I have a feeling I will be printing this out more than once.

Little man has been working on fractions and on multiplication. I felt he needed a refresher before we are in full swing of the school year. I just printed out a few pages and not the whole unit.

I love the spelling units and they have been a good fit for my son. This has been an area that I have struggled finding something for him. He likes basic spelling with no whistles. I hate coming up with my own words for spelling. So this was super easy to print out!

I know I am missing something as we have really utilized so much with the CHSH Download Club.

This is a good value and has so many amazing resources. I would recommend this website. It has something for everyone from full curriculum to some supplemental resources.

Social Media Links:

Don’t forget to see what others on the TOS Crew have been doing with the CHSH Download Club. 


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