Review: The Secret Bridge by Lamplighter Publishing

The_Secret_BridgeEvery once in a while, we come across a read which sparks the imagination and edifies the soul. This week, we’re happy to share with you a new read we had the pleasure of reviewing. The Secret Bridge by Lamplighter Publishing was a joy from beginning to end, and we know you’ll want to hear all about it!

Lamplighter Publishing’s aim is to develop Christlike character one story at a time, and this book hits the mark! The Secret Bridge tells the story of young Bridget Channing, and her journey toward a meaningful relationship with God. Through trials, tribulations, and a helpful friend, Bridget learns what it means to cast her cares upon the Lord and fall in love with her Creator.

We first meet Bridget on a sea voyage to England, following the death of her father. While aboard, she befriends Godfrey Bullingham, a naval officer who desires to see Bridget settled well. When disappointing circumstances leave Bridget homeless and with little to live on, Godfrey saves the day by proposing marriage. At first hesitant to accept, Bridget quickly realizes marriage might be her only option and accepts the offer. After a hasty ceremony, Bridget is taken to Godfrey’s hometown where she will be staying for the year while he is away at sea. Everything seems to be working in Bridget’s favor until her husband asks her to keep a secret. A big secret. Throughout the remainder of the book, we experience Bridget’s struggle to keep the secret hidden while more and more secrets become known to her. In the midst of her trials, Bridget meets a most unusual gentleman who encourages her to “Acquaint thyself with Him.”Secret_Bridge_TitlePg

The Secret Bridge was cleanly written, which is a requirement when choosing our books. Thus, any of our children could have read the story. However, I had a personal desire to read the book myself and took possession first. I had planned to read the book slowly, perhaps taking a few chapters at a time. I quickly realized this was not possible. The Secret Bridge was too good to put down. I finished the entire book in one night!

I will note, this story might be best suited for young ladies. There is no action in the book and a great deal of conversation whilst drinking tea. We should also point out that while the main purpose of the story is to encourage a closer relationship with Christ, there is a distinct romantic element to the story; particularly at the beginning of the book. I would recommend The Secret Bridge to young ladies in middle school or older, as the topic of marriage and proper courtship would be more appropriate for that age category.

As I devoured the story, there were a few points which caught my attention in particular. Mr. Jocelyn, the gentleman who speaks with Bridget, is a naturalist! While the study of God’s creation plays no significant role in the story, I appreciated reading of his love of nature and his desire to teach children through his hobby. It was also interesting to note the back story of the tale, which centers on a family dispute as far back as the time of Secret_Bridge_IllustrationHenry VIII. As we are currently studying this era in our history lessons, this was a fun circumstance and a God moment. While not important in any way to the story, it would be remiss if we failed to mention the gorgeous cover of this book. Mole skinned, engraved leather, and gold embossed. It’s a beautiful book.

The Secret Bridge was a joy to read! I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about the book. The story itself was lovely to read, well-told, and edifying. The character lessons throughout were encouraging, even for one who has walked with the Lord for years. We look forward to exploring more exciting reads at Lamplighter Publishing!

If you’d like to learn more about Lamplighter Publishing, along with The Secret Bridge, please visit them at their website. You can also find Lamplighter Publishing on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into The Secret Bridge, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: In The Secret Bridge, Bridget has a developed a hobby of wood carving. Which hobby/handy-craft would you most like to acquire?

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Write Your Own Story

Whats_in_a_NameWhat’s in a name? A name is more than just something by which we are called; in a sense, it is our reputation. Did you know there are a multitude of names for God? 

Each name unique and powerful; the list is endless. Join us on this exciting adventure through Scripture, where we will learn some amazing verses, talk about how those verses should affect our lives, and discuss some practical ways to make these names “real”.

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“I want to do something splendid…
Something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead…
I think I shall write books.”
― Louisa May Alcott

What’s in a name? Think of your favorite author. Just hearing their name conjures vivid mental images of stories read, lessons learned, and creativity inspired. If they’ve written long enough and well enough, their name becomes their brand and, often, sells before the book can hit the market. A name is a powerful thing.

Our third, and final, book recommendation for this season is not a book at all. It’s the idea of a book. A bare book! Pages of empty space waiting to be filled. Hard back, soft; made for little hands to explore.

Hard-covered books filled with blank pages, bare books are available in several sizes. They come with covers in ready-to-be-colored designs or with a blank cover for our own creativity. Have a youngster who isn’t quite ready for paper yet? They have board books, too! For those of us who haven’t mastered the writing process, helpful line guides are available for purchase.

Over the years our children have completed dozens of bare books. We keep a shelf in the study just for their creations. Our collection is quite eclectic. We’ve covered everything from fashion designs to scientific inventions to fictional stories. Oh, the memories!

Christmas is almost upon us. Before the season ends, let’s take a moment to write our own story. Nab a bare book and create a holiday treat for the kids to enjoy on Christmas morning, or whenever. The possibilities are endless.

🎄Time to Chime In: You’ve set about writing a book, will it be fiction or non?

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Angelina Ballerina’s Christmas Crafts

Whats_in_a_NameWhat’s in a name? A name is more than just something by which we are called; in a sense, it is our reputation. Did you know there are a multitude of names for God? 

Each name unique and powerful; the list is endless. Join us on this exciting adventure through Scripture, where we will learn some amazing verses, talk about how those verses should affect our lives, and discuss some practical ways to make these names “real”.

……

“Here are some ideas for holiday baking and crafts for you to do with a parent… don’t worry if yours looks different – the memory of doing something together is what makes each activity special.
~ Angelina

What’s in a name? Just saying the name “Angelina Ballerina” conjures images of little girls in tutus prancing around the dance studio and books littering our living room floors. Our girls were massive fans of the book series, the mouse herself, and all things ballet.

Our second book recommendation in the ‘What’s In a Name‘ series is Angelina Ballerina’s Christmas Crafts. If you, or your children, have enjoyed the traditional series, we know you’ll want to read this book as well. Angelina_Ballerina's_Christmas_Crafts

Twenty-five crafts and baking activities await the family. (One for each day of December ’till Christmas!) Each activity is complete with step-by-step instructions, a photo of what the finished product should look like, and adorable quotes from Angelina herself.

A few of our favorites are the Soap Snowmouse, the Snow Palace, Shining Star Ornaments, and Sweet Spice Ornaments. There are so many great activities to choose from. Following along with one activity per day is the perfect way to make sure none get missed.

Christmas might be almost upon us, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this book. Find a copy and let the fun begin. Don’t forget! Join us each Friday during our ‘What’s In a Name’ series as we review favorite Christmas tales!

🎄Time to Chime In: Name your favorite Christmas craft!

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Our October Reads

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October was a relaxing month. Nothing too crazy. Just plain and simple fun. Along with those incredible memories, came outstanding reads.

All of October’s books were included in Our Morning Basket. One was a suggestion from a fellow homeschooling family and blogger. Here’s a rundown of the books we enjoyed during the month of October:

  1. Silas Marner (George Eliot)A moral allegory of the redemptive power of love, it is also a finely drawn picture of early nineteenth-century England in the days when spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses, and of a simple way of life that was soon to disappear.
    A rather slow read, but charming non-the-less. Our children found themselves quite attached to the main character, Silas Marner, and cheered him on throughout the story. It was a lovely book we finished via audio.
  2. All of a Kind Family (Sydney Taylor) – It’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five young sisters – Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days.
    Another leisurely story, the characters were sweet and believable.
  3. Peter Nimble & The Fantastic Eyes ( Jonathan Auxier) – Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is the utterly beguiling tale of a ten-year-old blind orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery. One fateful afternoon, he steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher—a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes… Along with his loyal sidekick—a knight who has been turned into an unfortunate combination of horse and cat—and the magic eyes, he embarks on an unforgettable, swashbuckling adventure to discover his true destiny.
    An exciting tale of adventure and mystery, our oldest girl really enjoyed this book. Now, for the sequel.
  4. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Bks. I &II (Maryrose Wood) – Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children… Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess.
    One of the best book series we’ve read in a while. It started off a bit slow, then took off running. Our girls have finished the first two in the series and can’t wait for our library to bring in the remaining three.
  5. Castle (David Macaulay) With typical zest and wry sense of humor punctuating his drawings, David Macaulay traces the step-by-step planning and construction of both castle and town.
    Tying in with our history lessons, this was a great addition to our studies this month. The illustrations are fantastic and Mr. Macaulay’s humor terrific.  
  6. Cathedral (David Macaulay) – Journey back to centuries long ago and visit the fictional people of twelfth-, thirteenth-, and fourteenth-century Europe whose dreams, like Cathedral, stand the test of time.
    Another great read by Mr. Macaulay, we’d recommend any of his books in this genre. There are so many to choose from, and each one a gem.
  7. Inventions That Could Have Changed the World, But Didn’t (Joe Rhatigan) – The fascinating stories of inventions that could have changed the world, should have made a difference, or would have astounded us all, but for one reason or another, didn’t. Some inventions were too wacky, weird, or unwieldy. Other simply didn’t work. And still others may be the next big thing . . . some day.
    This book was an assigned read for my son. Each invention is quite remarkable, and many caused us to wonder why they haven’t yet become popular. If you’ve a little inventor in your home, this might be just the book for them.

November hasn’t even begun and we’re already looking forward to the next read. As usual, Mom is just as excited as the kids. No surprise there! Prayerfully we’ll all enjoy the selections coming, and the memories will keep on building.

📢 Chime In!: Have you ever picked up a ‘sleeper’ book; one that started off slow and then left you wanting more?

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Book Review: Full-Time Parenting

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a free copy for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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“Full-time parents look for every opportunity to teach and train their children in the ways of the Lord… They don’t want to let a single opportunity slip by without being able to impart important eternal truths to their child.”
~Israel Wayne, Full-Time Parenting

Full-Time_Parenting

How much of our day is spent parenting our children? Perhaps not enough. If we want to have lasting relationships with our children, and provide them with a solid, Biblical foundation for adult life, it’s time to embrace full-time parenting.

In Full-Time ParentingIsrael Wayne clearly and simply lays a Biblical foundation for parenthood. He gently encourages each of us to take our roles seriously, asking what God wants for His children. Full-Time Parenting addresses such topics as the father’s role in parenting, child training, the “Perfect Family” Syndrome, techno parenting, and more.

We found Full-Time Parenting, to be honest, spectacular! Israel Wayne does an incredible job of laying Biblical groundwork for every chapter covered. He constantly seeks to edify the reader; always encouraging parents to seek God’s will. Full-Time Parenting is engaging, thought-provoking, and to the point. Every chapter a blessing from beginning to end.

There were a few sections which especially caught our attention. “Hospitality: It’s Not Just for Women Anymore” was an interesting chapter and sparked quite a bit of conversation. “A Christian Education Manifesto” was amazing. Scripture, Scripture, and more Scripture encouraging parents to carefully consider their children’s education. “Why Some Children Leave The Faith” was an apt warning in today’s society.

Don’t be fooled. While Mr. Wayne does an excellent job of presenting God’s view of full-time parenting, there is nothing easy about what God is calling us to. In fact, being a full-time parent is going to be the toughest job you will ever have. But, God is good. He doesn’t expect perfection. He only expects us to give it our all.

Join us in the incredible adventure of full-time parenting. Prayerfully ask the Lord to show you what He wants of your family, spend dedicated time in the Word seeking His face, read Full-Time Parenting, and allow the Lord to do a mighty work in your home.

“Whether you are a single parent or a faithful Bible-teaching, patriarchal leader of your home, it isn’t ultimately about you. It’s all about God and His marvelous grace. Throw yourself on the merits of Christ and watch in amazement what He can do in and through you and your family.”
~ Israel Wayne, Full-Time Parenting

📢 Chime In!: What do you find most pulls your focus away from being a full-time parent?

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10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom

“Imagine never having to worry about your children again. That would be the life, wouldn’t it? No more sleepless nights, stressful days, or a stomach tied up in knots because of what your children are going through that you can’t control, or what might happen to them that you constantly fear.”
~10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom

10_Secrets_BookReviewIs it just me, or do we ladies worry a lot? We worry about pleasing people, we worry about doing enough, we worry about doing too much. We worry, worry, worry about everything and everyone. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back, refocus our thinking, and learn a few secrets to becoming worry-free.

In her book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, Cindi McMenamin helps us gain a better understanding from whence our worries derive and what a Biblical response to those worries ought to be. Gently reminding us of the Only One who can calm our fears and care for what we love far better than we can, Cindi does a lovely job addressing all areas of parenting and directing us to the Perfect Parent, Jesus Christ.

Covering such topics as “What If I’m Not Doing This Right?”, “Will They Ever Get Through This Phase?”, “You Did What?”, and more, Cindi McMenamin offers encouragement and Biblical wisdom.

“I’m sure you and I would never worry at all if we could be assured that our children would be happy, healthy, and safe all their days. But life comes with no such assurances. And while I personally can’t promise the well-being of your children, I can offer you ten ‘secrets’…”
~ Cindi McMenamin

While the entire book is a gem, filled with Scripture, my favorite portions of the book come at the end of each chapter. Here, Cindi includes “Putting Into Practice”; practical tips for putting each new worry-free plan into place, complete with an “In Community” section making this book a small group study! I would also be remiss if I did not mention both Appendix A & B; you’ll want to make a point of gleaning from those pages as well.

Although this book is mainly written for the benefit of mammas, I believe the Biblical wisdom found in these pages applies to all areas of life, not just parenting. God wants us to rely on Him, leaving our anxiety at His feet; fully trusting Him to meet our needs and the needs of our family.

I pray God would do a mighty work in each of us, giving us wisdom to train and disciple our children in such a way as would bring glory to His kingdom. May the Lord work in each of us as parents, helping us to live worry-free lives dedicated to His work.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
~ Philippians 4:6-7

📢 Chime In!: Are you a worrier, too? Share with us your favorite Bible verses for overcoming moments of anxiety and stress!

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The Christmas Countdown Has Begun!

Book-Review_logoIt’s almost Christmas time! You’ve starting planning right? Wait… you haven’t? You mean you don’t have your presents purchased, ready to be wrapped? No meal plans set for your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s get-together? But, you have thought about it, right?

If you’re like most of us, planning for the holidays can be just a tad stressful. That is, unless you have a workable plan of attack! Don’t have one in action yet? Then I have just the resource you need.

Back with her second edition of Christine’s Christmas Countdown, Christine Ida Harrington is offering help and encouragement for making the most of your holiday season! Inside, you will find a detailed breakdown to help you get a head start on the holiday madness.

Starting early, Christine helps us get a jump-start onChristine's Christmas Countdown our goals and vision. Do we need to make any home repairs before hoards of company arrive on our doorstep? Are there bulbs we need to start buying for the coming festivities? Perhaps you’re looking to set a few personal goals in order to better enjoy the season? It’s never too early to start planning!

What follows are breakdowns for the months leading up to December; giving us tips on organizing our outfits (hooray!) and special events. Helpful lists have been included for us to better plan our gift giving and menu choices. Each month has something new for us to consider and learn.

I’ve found this book to be a valuable resource for keeping the Christmas season fun and organized. I loved how far in advance Christine starts preparing. I appreciated how thorough and detailed she was in her ideas, planning all the way down to flowers being planted in our gardens and outfits being worn to particular events. This is a woman after my own heart. The included lists were very helpful and well thought out.

This book is a perfect fit for your handbag while running all your Christmas errands. Be prepared and don’t leave home without it!

🔔Time to Chime In: Is there one particular aspect of holiday planning which always seems to cause stress? Share how you’re going about solving this holiday dilemma!

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iPhone Only Photography

“The best camera in the world is the one that’s always in your pocket.”

                                     – David Molnar

Book-Review_logoBetween having an incredibly good-looking husband, four adorable kids, being involved in way too many activities, and blogging, it’s safe to say I take a lot of pictures! I average about five hundred pictures per week, depending on the events we’ve got planned. If I can find a faster, easier way to not only take those pictures, but also clean them up for personal use, I want to know about it.

It seems I’m not the only person looking to streamline their photography. A few months back, a friend sent over a post heralding an upcoming book by David Molnar. What struck me right off was Mr. Molnar’s advice, “The best camera in the world is the one that’s always in your pocket.” Most photographers want to sell you on their favorite camera, which can be discouraging if you cannot afford to run out and buy the latest Canon or Nikon. Mr. Molnar encourages us to forget the fancy stuff and use what you have right at your fingertips… your iPhone! iPhone Only

To be honest, I hadn’t been too impressed with the standard Camera app which came with my iPod Touch (same apps apply as those on the iPhone). It didn’t capture images with the same clarity as my Canon PowerShot and I quickly gave up the notion of being able to use it. Intrigued by the notion of being able to dwindle down the amount of stuff currently congregating in my purse, I immediately signed up for the free intro to Mr. Molnar’s book, anxious to see what I was missing.

Oh, my! All I can say, is that I wish this book came with my iPod from the get-go. In fact, if you love photography as much as I do or at least use it as much as I do, immediately stop reading this post and head over to his website. HERE you can purchase the full e-book and get started on your iPhone photographic journey right away.

iPhone Only Photography is so simple even a child could read it; so engaging every iPhone holder will want to read it. This book will make you want to dig out your iPhone and play. Mr. Molnar gives us eight chapters full of tips, hints, and advice on how to take pictures like a pro and edit them to achieve maximum affect. Each chapter leaves us with a challenge, a helpful recap, and further inspiration taken from other iPhone photographers.

iPhone Only Shrimp

Personally, I can already see a marked difference in the pictures I am taking and using. Through reading iPhone Only Photography I have learned so much, making my job as a memory keeper and a blogger all the more fun.

Don’t take my word for it! Type in the hashtag #iPhoneOnlyPhoto while using the Instagram app and see what the buzz is all about! If you haven’t downloaded iPhone Only yet, what are you waiting for? This is one book you won’t want to go without.

Time to Chime In: Name one challenge you’ve come across when trying to shoot memorable pictures.

Demanding Dudley

“‘Dudley’ his mother replied softly and kindly, ‘Is someone being a Demanding Dudley?'”

Book-Review_logoCharacter training is a must. What good is a well-educated child who is a monster? Anything which helps my children better learn manners, character, and general etiquette is always a good resource, in my opinion.

Demanding Dudley is an adorable story about a fuzzy little guy who needs to learn his manners. Through Dudley’s interaction with his mother, we see how bad manners yield no results and good manners produce good things.

This was a charming little book. The story was easy reading, enjoyable, and a thoughtful lesson; the illustrations creative, colorful, and cute.

My son really enjoyed this story. He thought the main character, Dudley, was quite funny. Mom really enjoyed the character traits being shared and the lessons learned. In addition to this adorable book, more fun can be had at The Wiblets website! There you will find games, goodies, a list of currently available books, and more.

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Please click on the image above to be taken to The Wiblets website!

Demanding Dudley is just one of several Wiblet books written by Deneen Renae. Renae’s The Wiblets series of educational picture books is perfect for bedtime, and is built on pillars of hard-won parenting experience. Her “positive trigger phrase” method of calming and educating has proven itself effective in reaching the hearts and minds of children at any stage in their emotional maturation.

If you’re looking for a fun, creative way to teach basic manners to your littles, these might be just the books for you!

Chanterelle Finds a Family

“Once in a cool, wooded forest lived a puppy. She was smart and very curious. She was also proud and stubborn. She did not need help from anybody.”

Book-Review_logoAnd so begins the story of Chanterelle; a smart, yet curious dog. Living alone in the woods, Chanterelle spends her day with friends, Porcupine and the Beaver family. She enjoys her romps through the woods, but each night returns home, alone. Saddened and curious, Chanterelle wonders what it would be like to have her own family. One day, while exploring the woods and looking her for friend, Chanterelle hears the sound of people talking. What follows is a charming story of discovering family.

When Nicole Brierre was assigned to write a childrens book while studying to become an elementary school teacher, she realized that she did not need to look any further for inspiration than her familys trusty canine companion. The project became a true family affair when Brierres brother and his girlfriend joined on as the illustrators of the book Chanterelle Finds a FamilyChanterelle Finds a Family

Brierre recounts the story of how the beloved pet came to join her family, while playfully imagining the puppys life before she was adopted. The dog at the heart of the story is an independent, stubborn puppy who believes she does not need help from any human or animal.

 This was a cute story with quaint illustrations. It would be perfect for animal lovers and younger children. Chanterelle Finds a Family (published by New Generation, RRP $12.99) is currently available and can be ordered online at Amazon.com and from all good bookstores.