Curriculum Review: Mother of Divine Grace

I can’t believe that Andrew has just finished up fifth grade! This year we chose to use the Mother of Divine Grace program for the first time. Previously, we used the Catholic Heritage Curricula which I loved, but Andrew wasn’t a huge fan because the program is a little too workbook heavy for hist taste. Then I switched to putting my own curriculum together which worked well.

Curriculum Review MODg

However, as we were approaching fifth grade, I wanted to find a more structured, academic program. Up to this point, I knew I was doing well on my own but I wanted to make sure that I was on the right track and giving him a good education. I knew several families who were happily and successfully using the Mother of Divine Grace (MODG) Program so after some research my husband and I decided it was worth the try.

What I like

Oh, gosh, where do I start?! There are a lot of things to love about this program! First of all, Mother of Divine Grace is a fully accredited distance learning school based out of California that uses the classical curriculum approach. It is a gentle program, especially for the younger grades, with not a lot of workbooks or writing. However, it is still a rigorous, broad spectrum program that is on par with any top-notch traditional school. With this program, the student gets a well-rounded educational that is fun and challenging at the same time.

I also love the flexibility of the program. There are several levels: you can just buy the curriculum as is and use it on your your own. Or, you can take advantage of the teacher services and learning support services. Of course, you can also substitute any of the course materials for something else if it works better for your family. For example, we use the Right Start Math Program instead of the Saxon program recommended by MODG because Andrew likes it and has been doing well with it.

Another thing I love about this program is the opportunity to work with a consultant. This alone is worth the cost of the tuition! The parents have to chance to speak with their consultant several times a year and they help put together a customized curriculum, offer support, and answer an questions the parents may have. I just love our consultant. She is patient, throughout knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the program and has been such a great help.

Additionally, as the higher the grade level the more online options there are. There are A LOT of online classes available to students, especially in high school. Most of the online courses start in fifth grade but as the student progresses there are online classes for math, science, language arts, several foreign languages and enrichment courses. For sixth grade, I have Andrew signed up for the Latin, History/Literature book club, and Art Appreciation.

What I don’t like

Not a dislike, just a heads up, really. The program is a little pricey compared to some other programs and has several fees included. However, the people at MODG are super willing to be flexible with the payments. There is a discount for paying in full, there is a set payment plan, or if you discuss it with them, you can come up with a customized payment plan.

And to be honest, the program is well-worth the price. I personally believe that I need to invest in my son’s education and MODG is a wonderful place to do it. 🙂

I definitely give MODG five (5) stars and seriously doubt that I will ever switch to another program!

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Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (06/14/2015)

Sunday Snippets

It has feels like it has been forever since I’ve participated in Sunday Snippets! Now that I have graduated, I am happy to be back. Hopefully, I will be able to get back into regular and consistent blogging and participating here. I missed it!

So, to play catch up, here is the rundown of my post from the last few months:

Book Review: Together With You

Book Review: An Amish Cradle

The Saints and Feasts in June 2015

You Are Marvelous in His Eyes (Some encouragement for those who are struggling)

Book Review: Not Cool

The Sacred Heart = Compassion (must watch video!)

Blessings!

Book Review: An Amish Cradle

About the book:

An Amish Cradle is a collection of four novellas all centered around the theme of “babies.” In all four stories, the An Amish Cradle coverprotagonists are either expecting or have just had a baby, and they each have to deal with unique challenges and circumstances.

The first novella, written by Beth Wiseman, is called “In His Arms.” This tells the touching story of a young couple whose first child is born with Down’s Syndrome.

The second, written by Amy Clipson, is “A Son for Always.” As a teenager, Carolyn had a child, Ben, out of wedlock. Now, she is married and expecting another child. She worries and fears that her husband, Joshua, will not accept Ben or love him as much as his biological child.

The third novella, “A heart Full of Love” is by Kathleen Fuller. In this story, the protagonist, Ellie, is blind, and must deal with an overbearing mother who questions Ellie’s ability to take care of her child.

The fourth, “An Unexpected Blessing” is by Vannetta Chapman. In this story, Etta finds herself expecting at the age of 42 and stuck in a snowstorm as she tries to get to the birthing center. Plus, she has concerns for her other children, especially her one son, David, who has left the Amish community.

My Comments:

I completely enjoyed An Amish Cradle. It is an easy, sweet, and quick read; and with summer fast approaching, it is a great book to read while lounging at the beach. There are no real plots or drama in the stories because they all center on relationships, but that is okay, because it is impossible not to be drawn into characters and their lives.

All the stories are touching and sweet, but out of all of them, my favorite is “In His Arms.” Maybe I am biased because I am a huge fan of Beth Wiseman (although I’m a big fan of Amy Clipson, too), or maybe it was the topic. It is not very often that topics such as people with physical or mental challenges (formerly known as disabilities) are portrayed in novels. And Beth Wiseman does so with aplomb and sensitivity. Either way, “In His Arms” is a story that I will not soon forget.

But, that is not to take anything away from the other stories. They are all good, and they all are written very well. They all have interesting characters, and they all have the same comforting “feel,” as if you are being wrapped in a warm blanket when  you read it. 🙂 I am sure you will enjoy all the stories.  In fact, when you read the book, you will probably think one of the other stories are your favorite instead.

On top of all this, like many recent Amish novels, there are a few recipes for some of the meal items mentioned in the book, like the homemade stew and mock pecan pie.

If you enjoy Amish fiction, you will enjoy this collection. I give An Amish Cradle four (4) stars.

 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (May 25, 2014)

Sunday Snippets

It has been a long time since I’ve participated in Sunday Snippets and I’ve missed it terribly! Thankfully, spring classes are over and I only have one class during the summer; therefore, I should be able to participate more regularly.

Of course since I rarely blogged the whole 4 1/2 months of classes, I didn’t really have anything to link up. In any case, here are my two posts, both reviews:

The Gift of Love by Amy Clipston

A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

Question of the Week:

What are your plans this summer?

My in-laws are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in August. They are having a special mass to renew their vows, and have a party; however, everyone in the family is also taking a trip to Ocean City, MD for 5 days. It is our (my husband’s and mine) first real vacation in 9 1/2 years so we are very excited! Other than that, we plan do a few day trips, send Andrew to basketball camp (not overnight!) and spend time at the pool/beach.

Book Review: Catholic Update Guide to Mary

 

Update to Mary

Book Description:

“Drawing on the trusted and popular Catholic Update newsletter, the Catholic Update Guide to Mary looks at the life of Mary and why she is so important to our Catholic faith. You will explore the various images of Mary, and her particular feasts celebrated in the Church throughout the liturgical year.”

My comments:

This is the second Catholic Update book I have had the pleasure to read and review. It is a short, catechetical book that gives an overview of the life of Mary and her importance in the Catholic faith. The book also outlines the various feast days of Our Lady, why and how to pray the rosary and various other prayers to Mary. And like the other Catholic Update books, each chapter ends with questions for reflection to help the reader deepen his or her understanding of the reading.

In my opinion, the Catholic Update Guide to Mary is geared toward the beginner Catholic or to those new to the devotion of Our Lady. Those of us who are knowledgeable in the Catholic faith or already have a deep devotion to Our Lady will not find anything new in this book; however, having said that, it never hurts to be reminded of the basics of our faith. 🙂

This is especially true in regards to our mental image of Mary. Chapter one, The Historical Mary, reminds us that Mary wasn’t some lofty, “high in the sky” woman who spent her days in deep contemplation. She was a normal, Jewish woman of her time, who cooked, cleaned and did all the other things the women of her time did. With one exception, of course. She was conceived without sin and in all things remained united to God. The Catholic Update Guide reminds us that all of us can look to Mary as a model in our own relationship to the Lord.

I recommend this book and give it three (3) stars.

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This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Catholic Update guide to Communion. The Catholic Company is also a great online store for all your Catholic gift needs, such as baby baptism and christening gifts. You can also find a wide selection of Catholic Bible Studies for both parish groups and individuals, as well as a variety of other Catholic Bible study resources.

 

Weekly Goals

Set Goals

Not a bad week. I got a good amount of things done so I am happy. Here’s how it went:

1. Continue reading at least one chapter of the Gospel of John per day.

2. Pray the rosary each day.

3. Finish reading Pope Francis, The Pope from the End of the Earth and write review. (I actually read two books this week! Here is the review for Pope Francis and here is the review for A Hopeful Heart.)

4. Continue making and adding items to my Etsy shop.

5. Get up by 6:30 am each morning. (Counting this as a success even though it was closer to 7am most days.)

6. Go to Georgian Court University to get books for fall semester. (I got the books all right, lots of them. One of my classes requires SEVEN books. Crazy!)

7. Blog at least three times.

8. Write some rough drafts for posts to pre-schedule before classes begin. (Didn’t happen. I will just have to do the best I can in getting up some posts during the semester….wish me luck!

Now that I’m back to school my goals are going to be rather short, with the focus on keeping up with my classes:

1. Pray the rosary each day.

2. Get up by 6:30 each morning.

3. Get started with the reading assignments and work for classes. (One of my classes is Christian Tradition so I will be doing bible reading for the class; therefore, I’m taking the bible reading off my list.)

4. Find a sitter for Andrew. (My babysitter for while I’m at school on Tuesdays had to back out last minute.)

5. Blog at least twice this week.

6. Finally, If I can swing it, I want to create and list one item for Etsy.

What are your plans for this week? Let us know in the comments or head over to Money Saving Mom and share them with us!

Book Review: Letters to Katie by Kathleen Fuller

Letters to Katie

From the book description:

Everything changed between them the first time he called her Katie.

Katherine Yoder has loved Johnny Mullet since the two were children, but he’s never returned her affections.

Now Johnny is trying to forge a new life for himself by purchasing a farm and building a business of his own. But times are tough, and he soon learns that he can’t take anything for granted—especially Katherine.

Before Johnny has the opportunity to tell Katherine his true feelings, she’s struck by a serious illness. While Katherine struggles to recall recent memories of Johnny, a surprise visitor comes back into her life, claiming that his letters speak of a history and a future for the two of them.

With the two men vying for her attention and her memory still elusive, Katherine has never felt so torn. But will the solutions to both Johnny’s and Katherine’s problems lie in places neither one has ever considered?”

My comments:

In many ways, Letters to Katie is a typical love-inspired Amish novel, complete with the expected happy ending, which isn’t a bad thing. That’s generally what I want in an Amish novel because I read them specifically for light reading after a stressful day or when I’m not in the mood for “heavier” reading. And I got that with this book. It was just the right amount of light reading I was looking for in this book.

At the same time, Letters to Katie isn’t a typical love-inspired Amish novel, especially in the way the characters interacted with each other. This too isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Another reader might not even notice. However, for me it took away from the story. I am no expert in the ways of the Amish by any stretch of the imagination, but the way the characters spoke sometimes and acted toward each other seemed decidedly “un-Amish” somehow. The thing is, if pushed, I couldn’t pinpoint an exact sentence or scene that was “un-Amish-like” but the overall tone and certain words or expressions threw me off. it made it harder for me to really get into the story, particularly in the beginning.

However, once I got past that hurdle, the story is really good. Katie is an endearing character and I rooted for Johnny as he struggled to maintain his horse farm. And I loved Cora and her feisty ways in spite of myself. 🙂 I love reading the transformation of various characters when I read a novel and this book was no exception. I loved watching Johnny grow from pride to faith and humility. You know, Katie may be the heroine of this book, Johnny was my favorite character (can you tell? 🙂 )

And all in all the plot was rather engaging. Yes, the outcome was exactly what I expected but there were a few twists to the story and so even though this wasn’t the best love-inspired Amish novel I’ve read, it was worth the read. I would recommend this book to other Amish novel readers.

I give this book three (3) stars.

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Book review: Letters to Katie

Letters to Katie, a review

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Weekly Goals

Set Goals

Well, it turned out to be a weird week. I felt like I ran around in circles, did a lot but didn’t accomplish much. Oh, well! Here’s how it went down:

1. Read at least one chapter of  the gospel of Luke per day. (Finished! Now I’m on to reading the gospel of John.)

2. Pray the rosary each day.

3. Finish reading “Secrets to a happy Life” and write review. (Didn’t get hardly any reading time this week. Hopefully will get it finished this week.)

4. Have nephew over for a sleepover. I can’t wait. He is visiting from Florida and I haven’t had much time with him at all! It was so much fun spending time with him!

5. Continue unpacking and  organizing our stuff. (Well, I put maybe three things away, but I’m counting it anyway!)

6. Continue making and adding items to my Etsy shop. (Put two new items to the shop)

7. Spend five minutes per day on fiction writing.

8. Spend about half-hour of playtime with Andrew each day. (We spent time together but not specifically playing.)

Here’s my plans for this week:

1. Read at least one chapter of  the gospel of John per day.

2. Pray the rosary each day.

3. Finish reading “Secrets to a happy Life” and write review.

4. Finish unpacking and  organizing our bedroom.

5. Continue making and adding items to my Etsy shop.

6. Spend five minutes per day on fiction writing.

7. Spend about half-hour of playtime with Andrew each day.

8. Revamp and prepare our homeschooling curriculum for the fall.

What are your plans for this week? Let us know in the comments or head over to Money Saving Mom and share them with us!

Book Review: The House that Love Built by Beth Wiseman

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I’ve read several of Beth Wiseman’s Amish fiction novels, so I was happy to have the chance to read The House that Love Built which is NOT an Amish novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It tells the tale of a widow named Brooke and a divorcee named Owen. They meet at the hardware store that Brooke owns when Owen goes in to get supplies for his new house that he is fixing up. There are also two sub-stories, one about a young troubled teenager named Hunter and another one about Brooke’s mother and her “love interest.” To top it all off, there is a little mystery entwined.

One would think that will all these story lines the book would be hard to follow but Beth Wiseman is an expert story-teller who easily manipulates each story-line, eventually weaving them all together into one cohesive unit at the end. By the end of the second chapter I was hooked and didn’t want to put the book down!

If you enjoy books about love, forgiveness and healing, you will love The House that Love Built. I give this book four (4) stars.

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Plain Admirer By Patricia Davids

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From the description:

“So what if Joann Yoder’s Amish community deems her a spinster? She’s content to stay single. In the meantime, she’s working hard to finally buy her dream house. So it’s problematic when she’s fired from her job to make room for the nephew’s owner, Roman Weaver. His blue eyes aside, she simply can’t stand him! Good thing she has the secret letters she’s been exchanging with a mystery man to keep her going. But who is writing her letters? And could she possibly fall for him in real life, too?”

My thoughts:

In general, Plain Admirer is a good book. It is not my favorite Amish fiction novel that I’ve read, but it had some good points. The story line was predictable  but kept my interest and not knowing who was causing all the trouble in town gave the book an element of mystery. The characters were strong, especially Joann, and I really liked the character Roman. I loved that they were human with real faults. At one point in the story Joann sticks her tongue out at one of the other characters!

My main issue with the book was the writing. As a wanna-be writer, I hesitate to say anything negative about someone’s writing; it’s just that the writing seemed forced and a little inauthentic. Having said that, based on the storyline of Plain Admirer, I would still read another one of the author’s books and give it a try.

I give Plain Admirer (3) stars.

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An advance copy of this book was offered free of charge by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.