Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Typing Coach ~ A Crew Review

learn touch typing, typing for kids

How good are your typing skills? I’m not asking how good you want them to be, or even how good you pretend that they are, but how good they really are. When the opportunity to review The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach appeared, I knew it was time to give it a try and work on my own typing skills. The Typing Coach is designed as an audio course with some visual elements to guide the students. After all, I wanted to learn how to type something that wasn’t already on the computer, so I knew I needed a serious program, not just a fun game to entertain myself. In a little over a year our youngest daughter will graduate from High School. I don’t know what God has planned for me after that, but I figure knowing how to type correctly might come in handy!

The actual lessons from The Typing Coach are taught by listening to the audios and following the instructions. The lessons include a lot of repetition to help you memorize the keys, and then they suggest at least another 20 minutes a day of practice. To help the student (of whatever age) succeed, there are a few things the parent or classroom teacher needs to do before the student begins. Even though this program was originally geared for school aged students, I knew that I needed to be the student this time. So I read all the introductory things, and watched all the videos myself. If I were using this with one of our girls, I would have had them watch the introductory video alongside me. Then, there is a student packet and a learning checks packet to download and print. I found a folder to put the pages into so I could use my cookbook holder to keep it at a comfortable angle to read from while I practiced typing.

The Typing Coach, also known as David Kimball, is really encouraging, but with the caveat that the student needs to practice exactly as they are taught. Cheating by looking at the keyboard will not help you learn to be a better typist, it is just lying to yourself. Better that the student work towards doing their typing practice correctly, but slowly, than to go fast and continue to make errors. The Typing Coach does not allow the student to use the backspace/ delete key because he wants them to stay focused on the task at hand, and learn to type error free. A good typist is more concerned with accuracy than speed. The goal upon completion of the course is to be able to type 10 words per minute (WPM) with zero errors. After completing the course the students skills should continue to improve and their speed should increase as they continue to practice. 

I have wanted to learn touch typing for a couple of years now. I realized that it would help me more easily get my thoughts down in the computer, and then, up on the blog, if I could type directly to the computer without needing to look at the keys. Let me tell you right now that it is possible to learn to type when you’re older, but it takes a lot of patience with yourself… and maybe your spouse. Kurt made fun of me when he saw me sitting at the table with my great posture, practice pages, and paper to cover the screen. But don’t you worry, I will continue on through all ten lessons, even if he laughs again!

As I followed the instructions from The Typing Coach on the audios, I realized a couple of things. First, I have developed a lot of incorrect habits over the years by typing while looking at the keys. Secondly, these extra long fingers of mine might just cause me more than a little frustration while typing. This is the one time I wished I didn’t have such long, tapered hands. It took a lot of practice for me to be able to hold me hands correctly on the home row without accidentally hitting another key… and I have to keep my fingernails cut really short. Sigh. Ok, moving on.  :)

learn touch typing, typing for kids

As I mentioned before, there are ten lessons in the online course from The Typing Coach. It is designed to be completed over ten weeks, or less if you memorize the keys easily and pass the learning checks without errors. Here is the reality for me: lesson one was posture, and it was easy thanks to having a good Chiropractor. Lesson two was the home row keys and it took me a little over two weeks to master. I not only had to learn which key to type with which finger, I had to learn how to properly hold my hands over the keys while still being relaxed enough to type. That was really difficult for me. If you look at the picture below you can see just how arched my middle finger needs to be while the others are on the keys. That’s because my middle fingers are about half an inch longer than my index and ring fingers, and an entire inch longer than my pinky finger. So if you have stubby hands, this skill will probably be easier for you to master. Lesson three was the top row, and I’m ready to try my learning check to see if I mastered it. Because it is combining the letters from two rows, I really, really have to slow down and concentrate. It used to be easier to memorize, but now in my 40’s, it takes longer. 

learn touch typing, typing for kids

Now, IF I could have devoted twenty minutes every day to practicing, instead of just three or four times a week, I am sure I would be further along. But’s let’s just be honest here: I’m a working mom who home schools a high schooler and is a 4-H leader. Three nights a week of practice is more time to myself than I usually get without interruption! Anyone else in this boat with me? Than let me assure you that you too can learn how to type with The Typing Coach, just know it will take you longer if you cannot devote time to practicing five or more days a week. 

Overall, I like The Typing Coach program, and I plan to keep working away at it all summer until I master all of the keys and can pass the Final Assessment with no errors. I really think this would be a solid program for school age students to use, with some oversight from their teacher and/ or parent. If you are doing this at home, please make sure you place your student somewhere where they can clearly hear the audios without being distracted. Getting them a set of headphones might be the easiest way to accomplish this in a large family. The motto of The Typing Coach is “making the complicated simple” and this program does that. It does not make it easy, but it breaks down the complex skills of typing into simple steps that the student can continue to practice until they master them.

To read about the other Crew families’ experiences with The Typing Coach, click on the banner below.

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 22, 2017

Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors ~ A Crew Review

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

Have you been avoiding doing art with your children because of the mess it usually creates? Are you ready to have some mess free art fun? Then you really need to check out the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.! Arlene and I received a set of these awesome tempera paints to review as a part of the Homeschool Review Crew. While these are geared for kids ages 4 and up, they are truly fun for all ages! 

Back when I was first introduced to tempera paint in elementary school, it was a treat. We only got to paint in art class, only once every two weeks, and the whole class had to march down the hall to the art room because it was way too messy for our teachers to consider doing in our regular rooms. We wore old shirts backwards over our clothes to protect them, and we had to wait for the art teacher to mix up the paints for us if we ran out because it came in powdered form. Fast forward 35 years to today and the art world has changed. Just a few short years ago The Pencil Grip, Inc. first introduced their Kwik Stix. These stubby little tubes of pre-mixed tempera paints introduced a new generation to the fun of using paint... without all the mess! They resemble glue sticks, and are just as easy to use. Then, after people fell in love with the ease of mess free tempera paint, The Pencil Grip realized a longer, thinner stix could open the door for older students who wanted more control, but still without the mess.

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

Arlene and I decided we wanted to try these new Thin Stix out on a variety of surfaces and see how they handled. The results amazed us. They offer a simple solution for young children whose parents want to offer art, but cannot stomach the thought of paint all over the floor, and yet, they have the ability to be used by high schoolers while studying impressionists like VanGogh. The above picture of Sherlock's hat was Arlene's attempt to use them like a small child would, just for fun, and quickly. The tempera paint in the Kwik Stix dries in about 90 seconds, so there really is very little wait time until the child can take their picture elsewhere safely.

Arlene will turn 17 on Wednesday, so I challenged her to try something more difficult. Since we both enjoy many of Vincent VanGogh's works, she use the Thin Stix to copy his famous Sunflowers painting. I think she did a fabulous job.

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

After working on her sunflowers for a few minutes, Arlene asked for a color I was using and looked over at my picture. I heard her say, "Mom, how are you making Starry Night with art supplies designed for Kindergarteners?" I replied, "It's actually pretty easy. These things are amazing!" And no, it does not look just like VanGogh's original work, but we only had the 6pk of colors, and I was doing my impression of an impressionist. It was fun!

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

We had been having fun with using these on just regular white printer paper. They worked really well, but we realized as they started to dry that the edges curled up a little bit. So note to self: once the 90 seconds is over, gently put the paper between two plain sheets of paper between two books for the final drying cure to prevent curled pages.

Next up, we tried using the Thin Stix on canvas boards we found at the local art store. These are canvas stretched over heavy cardboard, so the texture is the same as regular canvas, but without the thickness of a frame-stretched canvas. After all, we were stretching these kids' art supplies and seeing how well they worked for older students. 

Arlene has been on a Dr Who kick recently, so she used the Thin Stix to draw the T.A.R.D.I.S. on her canvas board. 

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

We definitely noticed the difference in how they handled. They were fun, but required much more patience to get the desired effects since the surface was textured. Still good for impressionist work, but probably harder for a small child to use. 

Below are my pictures, the top one is a rough copy of VanGogh's Wheatfield with Crows done on textured scrapbooking paper. The bottom picture is my copy of his Vase with Red Poppies done on the canvas board.

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

So what did we think of Thin Stix? Arlene would recommend them for little kids, on non-textured paper. She said she would like them better for older students (like herself) if we had the larger set with more colors. Remember, they dry in 90 seconds, so if you want to mix the colors, you have to be quick.

Then I heard another Crew member mention they had used theirs on rocks... and I was intrigued. How would these work for summer art projects, like flowerpot rocks or decorating picture frames? So I sent Arlene and her older sister outside to get a couple decent sized rocks and clean them off. Once dry, Arlene used some inspiration from a recent baseball game to paint hers, and Emily said hers already had a light spot, so she used it for the cloud in her landscape picture.

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

I'm pretty sure the uses for Thin Stix are only limited by your imagination. If you have small children, you probably want the original Kwik Stix since they are shorter and faster. For upper elementary ages and above, try these Thin Stix for your Spring and Summer art projects. We have not had them long enough yet to tell how well the paint will stand up to the weather, once their rocks go back outside, but they're definitely fun to use.

Original Kwik Stix, and these newer Thin Stix are available on Amazon, on The Pencil Grip's website, and at other stores like Toys R Us. There are a variety of size and color options. The original Kwik Stix are about the length of a regular clue stick, but thicker at 3/4". These Thin Stix are almost 5 &1/2 inches long, but only about 1/2" thick like a glue stick.

If you're going to be in charge of crafts for VBS, summer camp, or just to entertain your own children this summer, get yourself some great mess free fun with Kwik Stix!

Mess Free, Tempera Paint, kids art supplies

To learn how all the other Crew families used the Thin Stix, click the banner below!

Find ideas and inspiration by visiting The Pencil Grip on Facebook  or Pinterest, or follow them on Twitter

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer


2 Corinthians 12:9

Scripture Writing, 2 Corinthians 12:9

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pencil Sharpener Giveaway from Classroom Friendly Supplies

pencil sharpener giveaway, classroom friendly supplies

Today we have great news! It is time for the giveaway we mentioned last week. This giveaway is for US residents 18 and older. The winner will receive one pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies. I am so excited for this giveaway. We really like our pencil sharpener and are so pleased the people at Classroom Friendly Supplies have agreed to offer a pencil sharpener to one of our loyal readers. If you are the winner, they will even let you choose your favorite color!

To read our review of the pencil sharpener, click the picture below from last week's post

After you have read our review, come back here and click the Giveaway Tools widget below to enter the giveaway. The giveaway will close at Midnight, EST on Friday, June 2, 2017. 

Tell your friends about the giveaway, so they can enter as well.

Two weeks to enter, but you should go enter NOW so you don't forget! :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Spring Savings ~ Don't miss this!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission, but you will still receive the lowest price ~ great for both of us! 

By now you might have heard us mention SchoolhouseTeachers.com a few times. It is a fantastic resource that offers a lot of benefits for the entire family. Until May 31st it is ON SALE!!!

 I thought you'd like that. :)

I have been meaning to tell you about a recent addition to Schoolhouseteachers.com for a couple of weeks, but life got so busy I just couldn't fit it in. But now, ...now there is time to give you all the great details ~ plus an extra bonus I just found out about last week!

So here is the deal. Just about a month ago SchoolhouseTeachers.com added a huge amount of new content when they partnered with World Book. That's right, a World Book encyclopedia you can access directly from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. World Book is the encyclopedia I grew up using in school. Good stuff, not too lengthy, not too short. This is not just one resource, but a whole host of resources for all ages from PreK to High School. There is even a World Book Library in Spanish for ages K-4th grade. People, this is HUGE! Usually you would pay quite a bit for one online World Book library subscription, but with a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership you get access to ten of them! You can access the information through SchoolhouseTeachers.com by Library, or by Grade and Subject. We have only peeked around so far, but we have found quite a bit of cool information. I am really looking forward to spending more time going through this resource over the summer to see how Arlene might use it effectively this fall for her coursework.

Now, if the addition of World Book wasn't enough, there is a SALE going on through the end of May. If you use the coupon code SPRINGSAVINGS you can get the Ultimate Annual membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com for just $99! Why is that such a value? Well, frankly, if you wanted to buy your family online access to the World Book Libraries alone it would be more than $99. Then you need to think about the fact that SchoolhouseTeachers.com has over 300 course available to choose from. Included are a vast array of video resources, from 30 seconds to 30 minutes in length, from Right Now Media. Oh, and don't forget the downloadable planners, or the Applecore record keeping. I used Applecore to complete and print Emily's transcript when she graduated from high school last December, and it was so easy to use

About those videos... you might remember we had a great time watching "The Gospels" from Drive Thru History® earlier this year. The American History series from Drive Thru History is currently available on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Yup, we're hooked!

Ok, now for the latest reason I learned about just last week why I think you should click over and get your family a subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com today: The Old Schoolhouse magazine is going to start offering a print edition twice a year, instead of just printing the winter issue, and having the others be digital. That's right folks, the Summer 2017 issue of The Old Schoolhouse will be headed to the printer in early June... and ... if you get a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership by the end of May, you can go to your Member Dashboard and order a copy of the Summer Print Issue at no additional cost! Sweet! Your Member Dashboard will include all the necessary instructions and coupon codes to claim your print issue.

Ready yet? Great! Click on the link or banner below and they will take you to SchoolhouseTeachers.com so you can sign up for an Ultimate Annual Membership for only $99 with coupon code: SPRINGSAVINGS 

Still need more information before you decide? Read some of our past reviews of SchoolhouseTeachers.com here, here, or here.

Happy Savings!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Quality Time

blogging the alphabet, quality time versus quantity time

This week’s letter is Q, and it stands for quality time. As a working and homeschooling Mama, I do not often have a quantity of time to spend with the girls. I have often wished for more time, but like many other things I have asked God about, He keeps reminding me that His grace is sufficient, and made (shown) perfect in my weakness. I do not have a quantity of time to spend, but I can make that time count!

Quality time means being present and paying attention. Tell me I’m not the only Mom guilty of not always paying attention to everything my children talk about. Now that they are young adults, I have to make a conscious effort to set aside whatever else I might be doing, and focus on what they are saying… not just with words, but with their actions and attitudes.

Quality time means putting them first, ok, putting them third, and putting myself fourth. Jesus first. My husband second. My children third. Myself, fourth or later. 

There are a lot of joys to be found in motherhood. We just need to know where to find them. Quality time is time well-spent. Time spent teaching our children about the love of Christ. Time spent showing them how to be a friends to others. It also means helping them when they struggle, whether that is with their math problems, with their siblings, or in mastering a skill in the kitchen.

Every once in a while your children let you know that you are getting it right. A couple weeks ago, Emily (18) came by my desk while I was paying bills and said “Mom, look at me. NO, look right into my eyes, I have something important to tell you.” She proceeded to tell me “It is hard being an adult, but you do it well. Thank you for showing me how to live this tough life with grace.” 

That was better than any Mother’s Day card!

Stop back by next week for the letter R. In the meantime, check out the other letter Q posts

A Net In Time Schooling

MOM = Maker of Memories

Today's Five minute Friday writing prompt from Kate is: Mom 

five minute friday writing prompts, Mom, Mother's Day

This is my Mom
Her name is Mary. 

Her name used to be Mommy, but now that I'm in my 40's, I just call her Mom!

She is the Maker of Memories!

This is a picture I took of her last summer when she took my brother's children, our girls, and me to the zoo.

This what she does as a Mom and Grandma. She makes memories for others. She shares memories of her own life, and she instills in us a love of memories of experiences over love of things. 

On this particular occasion, my nephew and niece were visiting for a week or so, and we met them at the zoo for a day of animals...and Lego sculptures.

It is hard to find pictures of my mom. She is not a fan of having her picture taken. She would rather take a picture of YOU and share it to remind you both of the fun day spent together.

My childhood is full of memories that my mom made possible for us. Yes, they were mostly funded by my dad, who worked full time to support our family, but most of the plans were executed by Mom. 

Now that I am a mom, I understand her better than I ever did as a child. Moms give of themselves because they gain joy by seeing other people, especially their children, enjoying themselves! 

When I grow up... if I ever do... I want to be just like my Mom! :)

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I love you!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener ~ Review

pencil sharpeners, classroom friendly supplies

Have you ever gotten frustrated because it seems like every pencil in your house is dull when you need it? Or maybe you are constantly trying new pencil sharpeners and just cannot find the right one. If either of these apply to you, I am happy to say we have found the solution! Arlene and I received a Midnight Black pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies to review and we are quite impressed! These quality pencil sharpeners are available in seven colors and are made to stand up to the rigors of everyday classroom use. They are a great option for homeschoolers as well!

After using this pencil sharpener for the past month, I understand why so many classroom teachers love them. They make a consistent, sharp point every time. The noise is less than an old-fashioned metal pencil sharpener, like those I used in school so long ago, but the point produced is better and more consistent than most modern electric pencil sharpeners available today. 

How does this pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies work so well? The design is the key. Instead of the student continually cranking the handle over and over and wondering if the pencil is ready yet, on these innovative sharpeners, the face plate comes forward and grips the pencil, moving it the correct amount for a perfect point each time it is used.

pencil sharpeners, classroom friendly supplies

Our pencil sharpener arrived, securely packed, and Arlene was ready to try it out. Since Arlene loves to draw, she is quite particular about her pencils. She likes a sharp point, but does not like traditional pencil sharpeners because they either eat too much of her pencil, or the lead breaks off and gets stuck in the blades. This pencil sharpener is different because it has one rotating blade, and the stationary pencil holder so the end is less likely to break off. If the lead does break, a simple twist on the gear arm removes the blade so you can clean it out. There is a helpful YouTube video that shows the process. You can watch it on their website, or directly on YouTube.

As you can see in the pictures above, the shavings are collected in a clear drawer that can be easily removed and dumped whenever needed. The pencil sharpener can either be held in the student's other hand, or it can be fastened to a desktop or table with the enclosed clamp. We used it most often with the clamp attaching it to the side of a small table. Classroom Friendly Supplies also offers a permanent sharpener mount that can be used to attach the pencil sharpener to a teacher's desk or classroom table so you always know where it is. I think this would be an ideal solution for classroom use, since because of the drawer design, it cannot be mounted on the wall.

pencil sharpeners, classroom friendly supplies

This really is a simple to use, consistent pencil sharpener. Squeeze the little black tabs on top to pull out the faceplate and insert your pencil. Crank the handle until the faceplate pulls your pencil in to sharpen it to a point, then squeeze the little tabs (they look like ears to me) again to remove your pencil. Empty the drawer as needed, and learn to love pencils again! Arlene (age 16) was so impressed by how well it worked that she went through our box of 50 colored pencils and sharpened every single one of them! 

The Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpeners retail for $24.99 for a single sharpener, which includes free shipping. These solid metal sharpeners are worth every penny! If you are purchasing for a classroom, there is a significant discount (30%) if you purchase three of the same color at a time. 

Classroom Friendly Sharpeners also offer a super-bonus discount of 45% to schools (and PTOs) if they purchase 36 sharpeners at a time. If you are looking for a good use of your supply funds, why not ask your PTO or your school principal to purchase these for the entire building? For the super discount, all 36 must be of the same color, but they can be any of the seven color choices. You could have pencil sharpeners that match your school mascot!

pencil sharpeners, classroom friendly supplies

Overall we both give this pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies an A+ for quality, consistency, and value!

To learn more about these great pencil sharpeners, visit Classroom Friendly Supplies on their Facebook page!
Visit them on Pinterest for some great ideas and giveaways!
They are brand new to Google + so stop by and be one of their original followers!

Make sure you stop back by Home Sweet Life often as we will be hosting a Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener giveaway later this month!

Disclosure: we received a free pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies in exchange for an honest review. We were not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


The letter for this week is: P

While I was originally going to talk about the blessings of having supportive parents while you are homeschooling, I felt a burden to share this post about potatoes instead. There have been so many times we have been blessed by our parents while on this journey, so if you have supportive parents - thank them! 

Now, about potatoes...

See these little girls?

In just a few weeks they will turn 19 & 17. This picture is from a very long time ago, I think it was from when we celebrated their 6th & 4th Birthdays. How does this relate to potatoes? Just keep reading ok?

When our children are young and we are just starting our home education journey, it is like planting a seed. We spend time getting the ground ready, we plan how to care for them, and we pray a lot. A lot! Some of you may have seen the 2006 movie Faith Like Potatoes. In it, the main character has to learn to trust God for the results that he cannot see on the outside. He decides to grow potatoes, and the more he learns about the process, the more he learns that it takes a lot of faith, because if you dig up the potatoes too early, you could ruin them. That is why this week's post is about potatoes. 

See, those little girls in the picture were just beginning to homeschool, like planting seed potatoes. Now one has graduated and the other is a high school Junior. We are part of the way through the harvest, and God has done an amazing thing!

For all of you out there just starting your potatoes (your children's education,) or those of you who are partway through who are wondering if the effort is worth it... look to the harvest, and trust God for the results!

I've only grown actual potatoes once. we planted small potatoes and got...several more small potatoes. The whole time they were growing I was wondering, is it really this simple? Should I be doing more? How can I help them grow? In the end, the bigger potatoes were not on the bushiest plant like I had expected, but there were potatoes. I had to trust.

Homeschooling is like that. I've had to learn to trust God for the results. I've often wondered those same things: should I do more, can it be this simple, and how can I help them? Sometimes God gives us an answer to those questions, and sometime sHe just whispers: Trust Me.

Your little potatoes need your love. They need a Mommy and a Daddy who read to them, who take them outside, and who play with them. Your potatoes might grow up liking trucks, or sewing, they might like art or sports. Along the way, you'll get some math and English in there too, but mostly, you'll learn as a family how to trust God for the harvest.

See you again next week for Q.

A Net In Time Schooling

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Secret Bridge ~ A Crew Book Review

*Today's book review, and graphic, courtesy of Arlene, age 16. Read Carol's thoughts at the end of this post

Christlike character one story at a time, Lamplighter Publishing

The Secret Bridge by Amy Le Feuvre was originally published in 1899. It is one of the most recent additions to the Lamplighter Publishing book collection. The Secret Bridge is about a girl named Bridget who, after the death of her father, comes to England from India and finds what she thought was going to be a simple life turned upside-down when she discovers the uncle who she was going to live with has died. In enters Godfrey Bullingham, a gentleman whom she had met on her voyage to England. As her life reaches a low point he proposes marriage to her and she accepts. They get married but Godfrey, thinking that his family will not except penniless Bridget, moves her into his country home near his family. He hopes that they can get to know her while Godfrey goes back to his next commission at sea. Bridget is stuck in the English countryside with no one knowing her real identity except for the Dents, the couple who run Godfrey's house as housekeeper and handyman. Once Bridget moves in she quickly learns of an ongoing feud between two local families. This feud dates back hundreds of years. As she gets on in her day to day life she tries to remain impartial in the feud while making friends with members of both the Bullingham and Fitzroy families, from the matriarch of the Fitzroy family to Godfrey’s free spirited sister Audrey. She also meets other characters that live nearby such as Mr. Jocelyn, a interesting gentleman, and his mother. Bridget has a good time except for the fact that she has to hide her marriage to Godfrey and never having had to hold to such a big deception before it starts to wear on her. As she goes thought her time alone she writes letters to Godfrey, and learns how to trust God more in every situation. There is more but I can’t tell you any more without spoiling it for you so you will just have to read it yourself to find out what happens.

I really loved The Secret Bridge it was a nice read and easy to follow, and didn’t have some of the weird feeling that a lot of old books I have tried to read have that makes them kind of boring. 
The story was interesting with the histories about the families giving the first depth to the story and then Bridget’s interesting role as she tries to stay impartial to the feuding clans while trying to hide from both families that she has married a Bullingham. Then the revelation of her own childhood throws another twist in the story. I enjoyed it and I will definitely read it again.
It is of course, being from Lamplighter, beautifully done in a light blue leather-like cover with a beautifully embossed front cover and spine. 

It is recommended for ages 12 and up and I would say you would want your child to be at least 12. For me I would recommend it for ages 15 and up. Even if younger children do have a higher reading level, I would wait because it deals with marriage a lot. It also talks about growing towards God and following His will and His example in every aspect of your life.

From Carol:
The Secret Bridge is an amazing story of love, loss, trials, and redemption. When the book arrived on our doorstep I received a "please hurry up and get home so we can open it" message from Arlene. We own a few other titles from Lamplighter, have seen most of their other beautifully bound books at our homeschool convention, and still we rank this as one of our all-time favorite covers they have ever done. The story (as Arlene mentioned above) focuses on Bridget, and the trials she endures after the death of her father. 

Because the story was written in 1899, it reads more as a modern novel than some of the longer, serial-style stories from the 1840's and 1850's Lamplighter has published. Arlene and I were thinking that we would share the book and each spend an hour or so a day reading it until we were finished so we could talk about it along the way. As it turned out, I had a free evening and got so engrossed in the story that I regretfully informed Arlene that she was going to have to wait until I was done to read it, because it was too good to put down. :) She survived until the weekend, and then she also devoured it. 

As Bridget is struggling with her new identity, and needing to keep it a secret, she encounters some help from a local layperson, Mr. Jocelyn. She had been wanting to find God, but because of not having lived around Christians, she is not sure if He is real, and if He is, how she can meet Him and learn more about Him. Mr. Jocelyn encourages her to get to know the Son, by reading His Word, and then having the Son introduce her to the Father. Mr. Jocelyn is a wonderful man who lives out his Christianity by helping both the poor, and the poor in spirit, as he goes about his daily life. Once Bridget gives her heart to Christ, Mr. Jocelyn continues to encourage her to work up the ladder of her faith, one step at a time. This is the heart of the message of this book. To take whatever circumstance you are in and give it to God. To ask God to teach you what you need to know and how to live for Him in that circumstance. 

I concur with Arlene that this story would be best recommended for ages 15 and up. Adults will be challenged by this story, as God uses the characters of Bridget and Godfrey to show us our own areas that need growth. Using this story of marriage, Amy Le Feuvre challenges us to fall more and more in love with our Savior.

This charming yet challenging book has taken its place on our shelf with our other Lamplighter Publishing titles.

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