Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Match Made in Texas review

This is a review for A Match Made in Texas, four novellas in one by authors Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings and Carol Cox.

I don’t normally read novellas because they are too short.  I like to get involved in my books and not have them end right when I’m getting comfortable.  And that’s the way I felt with this book.  I struggled to want to finish it because I didn’t get invested in the characters.  There were also some typos that made it difficult to read at times.  I felt like there wasn’t much development with plots and characters.

If you like novellas you might like this book.

I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Time4learning Review

On November 7, I wrote that I was reviewing a homeschool program by Time4learning.  Well, our free month has ended and I wanted to tell you how it went.

The site was easy to register with and log in to.  Our daughter is 5 so I started her at the Kindergarten level.  The site was easily navigated by her on our laptop.  She loved "doing school."  In one month's time she actually progressed to first grade level in all three areas:  math, language arts and science.  She would remember the characters as she saw them in different lessons.  A few lessons didn't seem to load completely and so we had to skip them.  Later on I figured out that I hadn't given it enough time to load.

One negative:  one of the science lessons was about the life cycle and how living creatures begin.  The question was asked which came first, the chicken or the egg.  As a Christian I know the answer is the chicken because God made all the animals but this program took the view that we don't know which came first.  I realize it's not intended to be a Christian based program but to even tackle that question seemed inappropriate.

All in all, I liked the program for my daughter at the Kindergarten level.  I have already registered her with an online school which will start towards the end of January.  Time4learning has offered us another free month with a month paid.  I am considering that option as we need something to fill in until the online school starts.  Since this is familiar to her, it would probably be easiest to do.  If it were completely free I would continue to use it.

Even though Time4learning.com has compensated us with a free month of lessons, they did not require a positive review, only our honest opinions.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time4Learning Review

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid curriculum review. Time4Learning offers an online curriculum for prek-12th, information about homeschool portfolio reviews and tools like the How to Homeschool Guide. Be sure to come back and read about my experience.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Garden -- August 5, 2013

I finally had my phone on me to take some pictures of the garden.  

 My bush of 3 tomato plants that are doing the best.  I didn't get them staked so they're sprawling all over.
 This is the tomato plant that had the first tomato.  It's finally growing.
 I think this is a cucumber that I planted late. 
I have a bunch of tomatoes getting big.
 Kohlrabi.  I picked one and Dan ate it. 
 The pumpkin plant that has taken over the back fence.  The is just one plant.
 And here's one of my little pumpkins.
So it
 I think this is zucchini.
So it hasn't been a huge success but not a total failure either.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Book review: "A Siimple Change" by Judith Miller

I am a huge fan of historical fiction.  I long for a simpler life and community and I love the idea of the Amana colonies.  I read anything about that subject on which I can get my hands.  "A Simple Change" was not disappointing.

"A Simple Change" is about Jancey Rhoder and her family who move to the Amana colonies in 1881.  Jancey's parents grew up and met in the colonies but moved away to avoid the one year waiting period for them to get married.  Jancey was born and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri the daughter of a successful business owner.  Her parents want to move back to the colonies so her ill mother can live out the rest of her life in a more peaceful place.  Jancey, a volunteer teacher at an orphanage in Kansas City, chooses to move with to stay close to her mother.

What ensues is a less sedate life than Jancey expected.  She immediately obtains a suitor, gets caught up in a mystery and has her former suitor travel to rescue her.  Along with all that Jancey has to decide if she's going to remain in the colonies after her mother passes.  She is educated and longs to be a teacher again but her job in the colonies is cleaning and laundry. 

"A Simple Change" was full of drama and intrigue.  I finished it well before I expected to considering it is over 350 pages.  I loved it.  There are some editing tasks that still need to be done but that didn't deter me.  It is written in first person which is not my usual preference but I barely noticed it.  If you have an interest in historical fiction, particularly the Amana colonies, I would highly recommend this book as it gives factual information about the colonies included with the dramatic fiction.

*I received a complimentary copy of "A Simple Change" from Baker Publishing for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2, 2013: How does my garden grow?

Today is July 2, 2013 and time for an update on the garden.  

 I have three tomato plants doing well ....
 and two kind of smallish.
 One tomato plant did not survive.
 I have four kohlrabi plants in two different sizes.
 Looking good!
 Here are two of the four pumpkin plants.  The other two are on the sides.
And two pathetic looking zucchini.  There's a third equally pathetic on the other side.
Cucumbers and lettuce did not survive.

I think, because I want to cast blame somewhere other than me, that our rainy season has had something to do with the poor growth we've had.  For almost two weeks it seemed like it rained every day.  Up until this week every field around us had a lake and most of the fields around here are drain tiled.  We even had our own LaLake that Lilyana was able to use as a waterpark for two days.

And don't get me started on the fly-sized mosquitoes.  My new not-so-favorite perfume is called Deet.  I can't decide what's worse:  the chemicals in deet or the diseases from mosquitoes.

 Hopefully by August we'll be eating something from this garden ... definitely the kohlrabi.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Does she need glasses?

On May 30 we took Lilyana  for her 5 year well  check.  The nurse did a basic eye exam with one of those spoonlike things (hereinafter known as "the spoon").  As Lilyana had her right eye covered we noticed that she was trying to peek around the spoon.  The nurse declared her vision 20/30 and suggested we could take her to an eye doctor.

So I finally made the appointment and we took her in today.  The doctor was very patient with her.  He did her right first and she did well.  Then came the left.  After one or two lines she definitely had some problems.  He then suggested that we dilate her eyes.  He actually wanted us to take her home for a few days, get her used to drops and bring her back but I didn't want to do that.  I just don't have time to be running back and forth.  So he examined her eyes again after dilation and confirmed his original diagnosis.  She is slightly farsighted in her right eye and much more farsighted in her left to the point he feels the left eye is not working as much as the right.  He explained that if left alone the left eye might possibly become lazy and the right become nearsighted.  Or the left would just stop working.  Dan's mother had one of each.  He explained it had most likely been that way since birth.  When we told him she was premature he said it was a risk factor.

So the bottom line is she will get glasses to gradually bring the left in balance with the right.  She'll go back in 8 weeks and before six months to be evaluated and possibly have the power adjusted.  She may not have to wear glasses forever; just until the eyes are working equally together.  We tried to pick the best looking glasses from the ones insurance pays for.  Fortunately insurance should pay for all of it because she doesn't need complicated lenses like Dan and me.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's 9 days after June 1st when I was going to update you on my garden.  Nothing has been going on since I planted it ... except watering.  In Minnesota we have barely seen the sun or 70 degrees so the plants aren't growing.

However, yesterday when I went out to water I found this ....

Yes, that is a tiny tomato.  
On my two early girl plants.  

I'm not sure it will amount to much considering the plant is this tall ...
When I bought my tomato plants, two of them already had one or two blossoms.  Thus the tomatoes.  I probably should have plucked the flowers but I didn't think it would take this long for the plants to grow.

Praying for warmth and sun.  
Too bad my brother didn't pack some on his way here from Las Vegas where I heard it's 110 degrees.

Hopefully July 1 will be full of tall plants and growing fruits and vegetables.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Today is Saturday, May 25, 2013.  I braved the cold and mist to plant my garden today.  Here are the plants.

 3 tomato plants in this bale
 3 tomato plants in this bale
 1 cucumber on top of this bale
 1 cucumber on the inside edge of the same bale
 1 cucumber on the outside of the same bale
 4 kohlrabi in a 4th bale
 1 pumpkin on the outside edge of a 5th bale
 2 pumpkins on the top of the same bale
 1 pumpkin on the outside corner of a 6th bale
 6 "red sails" lettuce on top of the 6th bale
 1 zucchini on the outside edge of 7th bale
 1 zucchini on the top of 7th bale
 1 zucchini on the end of 7th bale
 1 zucchini on the inside edge of 7th bale

The idea with the vines/crawling plants (cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini) is that we will train them to cover all the bales.  Instead of trailing out into the grass they will climb up and around the bales.
 These two pictures are the whole layout with tomatoes on the left and zucchini on the right.
I had originally planned only to put stakes and wire on one side of the tomatoes.  But Dan thought that enclosing the whole thing might be better to keep the critters (including Cinder) from eating things.  We got two sides secure (the far side and the end with the bales).  We ran out of time for the other two sides.  Now that we've had enough rain for a little bit, I'll be anxiously waiting for the sun to warm things up more.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wow!  It's been exactly ten months since I've written anything on here.  It isn't because nothing is going on.  I've been very busy with adding jobs and leaving jobs.  I am now working 50+ hours a week between my own business, a full-time pca job and three bookkeeping jobs.  We've decided to homeschool Lilyana and I've begun a straw bale garden.

For the rest of the summer I will be updating this as my garden progresses.  I'll post any day that I do something and around the first of every month I'll post a picture of how the garden looks.  I hope to keep track of how much I've spent and how much yield I get.  But for now enjoy the beginnings of my garden.

Early in May I was bemoaning the fact that having a “normal” garden is too hard for me.  Our soil is full of clay which makes it very hard to till and weed.  I have a lot of pain from various disorders and just cannot do the stooping or sitting or kneeling required to maintain the garden.  I work more than full time so I knew I wouldn't have the time to commit to a traditional garden.  In addition, a group of people came and cut wood for us in March and about five dump truck loads of wood are on top of my garden area right now. 

We didn’t have one last year (2012) and I was resigned to the fact that we wouldn’t have one this year (2013) either. Then a friend of mine posted about her straw bale garden.  So I did a little research and posted on FB that I was thinking about doing it.  Then another friend pointed me to her friend's site.  This friend of hers has been doing a straw bale garden since 2009.  So I read and reread and reread her site.  So much good information.  I emailed her and she has given me so much more and answered all my questions.

And now I thought I’d record, as a sort of journal, in detail what I’ve done this year so I can go back and remember for next year.  I’ll know how to change things if I need to.  I’m going to keep track of each day that I do something and take pictures on the first of each month (or close to it as we will be gone the first three weekends in June).

It all began by us contacting a local farmer in May to get some bales.  He charged us $3 each and we got 7 bales.  I decided smaller is better for my first year.  I chose to use all blood meal as my main conditioning fertilizer and after researching on Amazon and other sources on the internet decided to go to the local feed mill in Gaylord.  They had 50 lb bags of blood meal for $41.  It slightly beat Amazon’s price, I supported a local business and was assured that it could be kept from year to year.

With bales, blood meal and water in hand we put out the bales and started the conditioning.  These pictures are of the bales after we set them out and before we started conditioning.  We put some old carpeting in the center to keep the grass/weeds down.  Next year I'll probably spread the bales from this year as a weed free bedding.

The recipe I followed is the same as Carrie’s.
Day one (May 11):  ½ cup blood meal and water – I also ordered my fertilizer for day ten (Dr. Earth 5-7-3 and Dr. Earth 6-4-6). 
Day two (May 12):  water
Day three (May 13):  ½ cup blood meal and water
(May 14):  we were gone all day and didn’t get back until late so I skipped this day
Day four (May 15):  water
Day five (May 16):  ½ cup blood meal and water
Day six (May 17):  water
Day seven, eight and nine (May 18, 19, 20):  ¼ cup blood meal and water each day
(May 21 and 22):  I was super busy and it rained for 1 ½ days.  On Tuesday, May 22 I got the package from Amazon which had been damaged in transit and it was one box of fertilizer short.  I chatted online with Amazon and they next day shipped me the item at no charge.
Day ten (May 23):  1 cup 10-10-10 fertilizer and water – I combined four cups of each of the Dr. Earth fertilizers and put one cup on each bale. 

And these are the pictures after I finished day ten.   

Now any day I’m ready to put up stakes and wire and plant.  I plan to take pictures after I’m done with the planting and will post it at that time.

Stay tuned to see how this first time garden experiment goes...