Monday, June 26, 2017

The End of a Chapter in my Life



I have been thinking about this for a while and praying about it a lot. I am quitting the blog. I am so sad about it but feel peace about this decision. God is calling me deeper into Him. I recently gave up Facebook as well. I will be closing that account in a few weeks (I have a couple of events planned through it and have to keep it open for those).

Through the years of blogging, I have enjoyed a lot of what I do. I get to share our lives with you. I get to review amazing books and products. I have met some incredible people through this as well. My homeschooling journey has been written down for you to see. My struggles with chronic pain and the aftermath is here too.

But, it is time to move on to other things. My boys are getting older. My blog has become more of an obligation than something enjoyable. I have reaped many benefits from blogging but life must go on. I want to spend more time away from my computer and the things I "have" to do on it. There is so much life to live and I want to live it to the fullest.

God has led me to these Bible verses in the past few months since my surgery (I will tell more about that later):

"...aspire to lead a quiet life,
to mind your own business,
and to work with your own hands..."
(1 Thessalonians 4:11)
 
"...that we may lead a quiet and
peaceable life in all godliness
and reverence, for this is good
and acceptable in the sight
of God our Savior..."
(1 Timothy 2:2-3)
 
"Do not let your adornment
be merely outward--arranging
the hair, wearing gold, or putting
on fine apparel--rather let it
be the hidden person of the heart,
with the incorruptible beauty of
a gentle and quiet spirit, which
is very precious in the sight
of God."
(1 Peter 3:3-4)
 
Notice in those verses that God calls us to lead quiet and peaceful lives. He doesn't want us so busy that we can't be with Him. He doesn't want us to put things before Him. The first commandment is "Have no other gods before Me." A "god" can be anything from money, success, beauty, fame, family, or anything at all. Even a blog.
 
I will be focusing on leading a gentle and quiet life that is pleasing to the Lord. I am not going to be blogging anymore. Perhaps the Lord will lead me back down this path in the far future. But, for now, I am closing this blog and will no longer be writing on it. I do want to share with you about my surgery though. I know lots of you have been wondering how it went.
 
I had a transaxillary first rib resection, scalenectomy, and brachial plexus neurolysis on April 10th. Basically, I had my first rib removed on my right side through my armpit. They also took out my anterior scalene muscle in my neck as well as scraped out all the scar tissue. I have thoracic outlet syndrome due to many car accidents over the years. Scar tissue from whiplash attached itself to my first rib causing my brachial plexus (a nerve bundle in my neck/shoulder area) to be compressed. When nerves are compressed it causes chronic pain.
 
The pain I have is in my right arm (HORRIBLE PAIN), shoulder, shoulder blade (traps and scapulas), and my neck. I had migraines for several years because of it. The only solution was to have the surgery I said above. I went to Johns Hopkins and it was a great surgery. Yes, it was a very painful surgery but it is over with and I am doing well.
 
The pain has been cut down about 25% and gets better each day. I have a LONG way to go because nerve take a very long time to heal from being compressed for so many years. I am off of ALL medication. Hallelujah! God has been so good to me. I am still healing and can't use my arm to do much but I am better than before.
 
Here are a few pictures from the years of blogging. I hope you have enjoyed my blog. I have enjoyed writing and sharing. I am sorry that this is ending but God has much more in store for me.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And one last one taken a few weeks ago...
 
 
 
Boy have we grown as a family since 2011 when I started this blog. I pray this blog has blessed you in some way. I pray that God leads you in His ways. Will you also pray for me as I still have some medical issues that need to be addressed? I truly will miss this so much. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this little corner of the universe. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Road to Paradise (By: Karen Barnett)



Karen Barnett has a passion for national parks and preserving the beauty of nature. Her newest book, The Road to Paradise (a vintage national parks novel), takes you on an adventure back in time. Back to the beginning of President Theodore Roosevelt vision for protected lands. He wanted generations to come to be able to enjoy the beauty that national parks behold.

In The Road to Paradise, it's 1927 and Margie Lane is an enthusiastic naturalist. She is the daughter of a Senator and wants nothing more than a position working alongside the park rangers at Mount Rainier. She lands the position and begins working to preserve and protect the great park.

Chief Ranger Ford Brayden has some very haunting memories of his father who died on this mountain. He doesn't like that a Senator's daughter was hired to help when she only has a few survival skills. He feels the need to keep a look out for her among all his other duties. He takes his job very seriously.

When Margie's fiancé, Philip, shows up to begin developing the Paradise Inn she becomes very upset. His plans will destroy the beautiful surroundings of the park. He wants so push his plans through no matter what his relationship with Margie may become.

In the end, Margie and Ford may have to sacrifice a lot in order to save Mount Rainier from the destruction that Philip has planned. All Philip can see is the dollar signs from the tourism the Paradise Inn will bring him. He can't see the beauty of nature that he will be tearing down.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was historical as well as a love story sprinkled in. I actually learned a lot about the preservation of national parks and the cost of many people. President Theodore Roosevelt had a great vision and it was brought to fruition by many people fighting for these parks. I highly recommend going to the parks that are here for our pleasure.

*Many thanks to Blogging For Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Friday, June 23, 2017

An Amish Summer (Four Novellas) Review



An Amish Summer is a collection of four novellas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Irvin. I love books like this because you get a lot out of it. Each book is different yet fits together in this collection.

A Reunion in Pinecraft by Shelley Shepard Gray

Honestly, I was very confused in this book. There are two sister named Sharon and Sherry. I couldn't remember which one was which. I also couldn't imagine Amish folks taking vacations but maybe they do. So, after I figured out who was who and accepted the fact that Amish folks go to the beach for vacation, I liked this novella. It was sweet.

Falling in love by writing letters back and forth is so romantic. In this book, the sisters and some friends meet up with one of the sisters pen pal in Pinecraft, Florida. They decide to have a two week vacation to get to know one another and friends come along as well. They go through some trying times but try to enjoy the vacation as much as possible while trying to figure out feelings and each other.

Summer Storms by Amy Clipston

Arianna and Jesse are counting down to their wedding day. They have been waiting so long for this day and can't wait to be husband and wife. Their love is such a sweet love. Arianna's brother, Tobias, reveals secrets and gets them into trouble. Although they have made mistakes along the way, they only want to be together.

Arianna's quick tempered father calls off the wedding and crushes their hopes of being together. They are forbidden from every seeing one another again. They have to decide if they are worth fighting for or if they will go their separate ways.

Lakeside Love by Kathleen Fuller

Esther has always thought very low of herself and puts her sister on a pedestal. Everyone else does including the boy she has loved her whole life, Judah. He only has eyes for Esther's sister Sarah. She tries hard to win the affections of Judah but he can't see past Sarah.

An Englischer comes to stay with the family for the summer and stirs things inside Esther. She has resigned herself to be happy with or without the man she loves. This new boy just may steal her heart before Judah wakes up to his newfound feelings for Esther.

One Sweet Kiss by Kelly Irvin

Martha Byler has been taking care of her large family every since her mother died when she was younger. She has entirely too many responsibilities and to Jacob King just adds to it. He loves Martha but she is too busy to see it or feel it. One sweet, summer kiss could change everything for both of them.

I felt that the book was missing something. Maybe there was a prequel and I missed it. The characters couldn't really develop in such a short novella. Although I enjoyed it very much it felt lacking. The history of the characters was lost somehow. But in the end, you got the point of the story.

*Many thanks to BookLookBloggers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinion expressed here are solely my own.*

Scripture Scribes (A Cursive Book Review)



Learning to write cursive is something that my oldest son (and middle son but not quite yet) wants to do. He started asking about six months ago and I gave him some copy work. He can now write his first name in cursive as well as a few other words if he is really concentrating. We decided that over the summer he would learn to write in cursive so that by fall we could dive into reading cursive as well.

While I was at the HEAV homeschool convention a few weeks ago I came across the loveliest booth. It was called Laurelwood Books. Mary Ellen Tedrow-Wynn is the owner and she is such a delight to talk to. She had a wide range of used books and curriculum to sell. But, she has a passion for copy work and handwriting. She developed her own print and cursive handwriting curriculum. I told her of my needs and she pointed me in the direction of Scripture Scribes. It is a collection of biblical themes for learning cursive. I chose "His Name is Wonderful" because it goes through the many names of Jesus from the Bible.



What I love about this curriculum is that it is divided up into 4 days per lesson. We only homeschool 4 days a week so it works perfectly with our needs. Each day is clearly labeled and easy to follow along. At the top is the name of Jesus or God that you will be learning to write for that day. It also includes specific scripture that goes along with the lesson.



The lesson begins with copying tracing the name of Jesus or God and then goes into the entire scripture. Above you can see that my son has started the lessons and is doing very well. We have discussions about what each name means and look them up in our family Bible.

Here are a few more pictures of the some of the lessons:






The author's reason for creating this particular line of books is to have the students fall in love with the Scriptures. She uses English translations for her Bible verses. I like this because we use the ESV in our home. I find it to be one of the most accurate and easy to read translations.

There are 30 weeks of copy work included in this book. She also has others in this same collection: Psalms & Proverbs for Young Catholics (using the Catholic Bible for verses), Savoring Psalms (KJV), Practicing Proverbs (for lefties!!), One Another, My Whole Heart, Men of Honor/Women of Grace. These books are less than $20 each and will last for the whole school year.

My oldest son (who used this book recently) really enjoyed it. He found it easy to follow along and thought the lessons were not too long. He was able to sit and complete each days work in about 10 minutes. He is just a beginner so it could take a shorter time for a more experienced person. This book is great for beginners or those who need to hone in on their cursive skills.

For more information on Laurelwood Books and their many products please visit: http://laurelwoodbooks.com/

*Many thanks to Laurelwood Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Monday, June 12, 2017

God Loves Daddy & Me (By: Bonnie Rickner Jensen) & A Giveaway!!



Books are a huge part of our lives here at Jensen Family Academy. We homeschool and a large part of that is reading. We read about every single thing we want to learn about. We also read a lot for pleasure. My youngest son is four and he loves board books still. Especially if they have animals in them. Bonnie Rickner Jensen's newest book God Loves Daddy & Me fulfills those requirements for him. Not to mention she has an awesome last name!

This little book brings so much love to small children. The illustrator, Laura Watkins, did a fantastic job with the pictures. The expressions are truly emotional. As I read this book to my four year old (and my six and eight year olds listened in), he began to ask questions about God and His love for us all.

The relationship between fathers and their children is such a special one. It is something that a mother cannot replace. Daddies do things differently than mommies. They go on more adventures and are more laid back (not always but in my personal experience). Fathers love their children differently as well. In her book, Jensen uses the unique ways that a father can show love to his children.

Each page comes to life and makes you feel good inside. The author includes God on every page and makes sure the reader knows that all love comes from God. Through the pictures you can tell that the father adores his child and the child looks up to his father just as we look up to God.

My family will treasure this book for a long time to come. Not many books are written like this and I plan to hold on to this one for when my children have children. It is such a special book.

FrontGate Media is giving away a copy of this book through this link: http://www.blessedfreebies.com/godlovesdaddyandme.html

You can purchase a copy through this link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0718091779/ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=hcads-20

I hope you check it out to win a copy for your children or grandchildren.

*Many thanks to FrontGate Media for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Best Pencil Sharpener I Have Ever Used (Classroom Friendly Supplies)





As a homeschool mom I am constantly searching for a really good pencil sharpener. I have three boys who love to write and draw all day long. We go through so many pencils I have lost count. We have had to throw out a lot of pencils as well, because other pencil sharpeners break the lead inside the pencil. I have invested a lot of money on cheaper sharpeners over the years.

About a month ago I was on Facebook and came across a link to Classroom Friendly Supplies (classroomfriendlysupplies.com). It was a site for sore eyes. The pencil sharpeners on this website had rave reviews. I asked around in my homeschool circles and several people told me it was a must-have for homeschooling. I immediately ordered one. It took no time at all to receive it and we used it right away.


This pencil sharpener sharpens pencils with such precision. They are so sharp they look almost dangerous. Haha. The leads do not break very easily and don't get stuck inside the sharpener. My boys can use it with ease and they are 8, 6, and 4 years old. They actually look for things to sharpen now. We never have a dull pencil and even our colored pencils work better than ever.


The sharpener offered by Classroom Friendly Supplies is sold by an elementary school teacher who saw the need in classrooms. Typical sharpeners can be loud and disruptive to a classroom setting (even a homeschool setting). This one is quiet and reliable. It is also non-electric. Meaning, you crank it manually. So, anytime the power goes out or you are out and about with the kids, no worries. This sharpener is ready to go anywhere, anytime.


To top it off, Classroom Friendly Supplies donates $1 from the sale of every sharpener to build a school in a developing country. That is reason enough to purchase one right away. Also, they come in many different colors but if you purchase a Precious Pink sharpener a portion of the sales go toward cancer research and awareness. Such a wonderful idea.

The colors include:
  • Midnight Black
  • Cool Blue
  • Firehouse Red (which is the one I have above)
  • Groovy Green
  • Popular Purple
  • Precious Pink
  • Hello Yellow
Each sharpener comes with a very easy-to-use mount. You can mount it to any surface or take it with you anywhere. My kids move it from room to room so we don't mount ours. But, it would be very easy if we decide to do that eventually.

The Classroom Friendly Supplies Sharpener is very inexpensive as well. For only $24.99 each (plus free shipping and a 90 money back guarantee) you can have on of your own. But, if you are a teacher or homeschool mom and know others who would like one as well, you can order 3 of them for $17.99 each. It really is a great deal.

This is seriously the best homeschool purchase we have made all year.

Here is a link to a video all about the sharpeners. It is a neat video explaining how to use it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0jqUe91Ovs

I hope you check out these amazing sharpeners and add one to your school room. The kids will love being able to use it so easily.