Personal Writings And Book Reviews

Motherboard Books: Let’s make a Web Page (Review) January 14, 2009

Filed under: educational writing,reviews — novelized @ 10:15 pm

When I entered the world of blogging just two years ago, I knew very little about computers.  I am a one finger typist still, and HTML was greek to me.

Motherboard Books has an amazing gift of simplifying the compicated elements of technology (that have overwhelmed me as an adult), and creating child-friendly computer sklls.  They succeed in building enthusiasm and pride in children by making their lessons so easy to use and rewarding to see.

My daughter knew that she was learning something that is hard for Mommy to understand.  She beamed at her completed project.  It’s always fun to learn something you know to be hard, very quickly.  It makes you feel smart and it builds confidence and determination when things might become truly hard.

Let’s Make A Web Page! Is a user-friendly written tutorial that walks a child through the steps of designing a webpage.  It comes as a 60 page e-book.  They use Coffee Cup HTML Editor’s free trial to teach the steps, and they keep it very cost effective by recommending free sites for images, backgrounds, and even web hosting.

The finished product is pretty cool.  They break down the fear of HTML and desolve any worries that this is too complicated for a child to do.  Not only will your child have an interview- turned web page, but your child will develop a new skill.  This is a skill that could prove very beneficial in our current society.  Technology is developing quickly and computer knowledge is becoming increasingly important.  This should be a skill we expose our children to.  Why not make it painless?

You can find Let’s Make A Web Page at

The cost is $19.99.  

Be sure to check out the other reviews for Motherboard Books as we did not all receive the same products for review.  My children are young and so I worked through Let’s make a web page! with them.  I did not try other products and cannot give an opinion regarding them.  I was very pleased with the quality and teachability of what we tried.  If you are seeking out a computer course for your child they are worth your time to investigate further.

Motherboard offers a few freebies I want to make you aware of.  If you like to try before you buy you can check out the Logo turtle at (check out other reviewers for more information regarding Logo).

Also, a free internet scavenger hunt is available by simply signing up for the newsletter.

Make use of these great offers and remember to peruse the Crew blog for access to other reviews for Motherboard.


Mary Jane Her Book Unit Study Sample

Filed under: e-book excerpts,educational writing — novelized @ 10:04 pm

Mary Jane  Her Book by Clara Ingram Judson

A Unit Study by Heather Randall

Chapter 1: The Broken Doll

In our story, Mary Jane has a doll named Marie Georgianna.

Please begin this unit study by reading chapter 1.

To review our reading, ask the following questions.

1. How does Marie Georgianna break?

Discuss safety rules of crossing the street. Always look both ways. Take this as an opportunity to address your family’s rules when it comes to safety. Do you allow your children to cross the street alone, with a friend, or with an adult? Where are the proper places to cross a street? What could the consequences be of breaking these rules?

2. What did Marie Georgianna look like?

To test your child’s memory you can print out the coloring page for this chapter and instruct your child to color it to look like Marie Georgianna is described on pages 1-2. (She had brown hair and a pink dress).

3. How does Mary Jane feel when she sees her doll is broken?

How would she feel if something special of hers was ruined? Did Mary Jane’s parents understand her feelings? How did they help? Discuss with your child your interest in their feelings. Stress that you care when they are sad. Talk about other emotions a person might have and how a grown up might help sort those feeling out. Give examples or play act scenarios. Even allow the child to play the parent to see how they would respond.

Page 2


4. Who takes her to the store to find a new doll?

Daddy’s have a special place in the lives of girls. Growing up without a Daddy I know how valuable one can be. Use this as an opportunity to ask your daughter what sort of things she would like to do with her father. Maybe set up a Daddy/ daughter date. Also, discuss how Mary Jane’s Daddy wanted to give her the new parasol because her attitude was not greedy. Parents like to bless their children when there is a right attitude and a lack of whining.

5. What does she name her new doll?

Does your child think it is a good name? Is it funny? There are many examples of people naming new things after things they have lost. Think of examples together. It is a way to remember the old thing and accept the newness at the same time.

6. What is the rule about her new doll’s parasol?


Sometimes parents figure things out by trial and error. What are some rules your family has formed because of necessity?

Extra Activities to include:

1. Make an adorable sock doll together. You can find this free, easy pattern at:

2. Practice matching. Mary Jane’s dolls were twins. They looked alike. This might be a good time to practice matching skills. Below you will find some printable worksheets to complete. at this site you will find games online for your child to practice matching.






Also, don’t forget, Memory is an excellent game tool for matching and so is the old game Guess Who?


When Chicks Hatch (Synopsis)

Filed under: christian chick lit,Heather's writings — novelized @ 9:23 pm

Intricate, inter-woven vignettes tell the story of five women whose lives collide at their lowest points.

   Nicky Bell is a college student who accidentally uncovered her professor’s infidelity and inadvertently loses her one shot at the internship of her dreams.  An out of state visit to friends breaks her out of her shell of selfish ambition when she is asked to be their surrogate.

   Sidney Flannery is the impulsive, accidental lover of the married college Professor, Peter Marks.  Pregnant by their first encounter and unsure of his devotion, she disguises the pregnancy to her family as an anonymous artificial
insemination.  Will her lie hold up when complications occur?  When her first love returns can he help her remember a faith she’d nearly forgotten?

   Jennifer Frank is a princess in her own mind.  Her life is full of beautiful things.  She has a loving husband, a gorgeous home with vases always full of fresh flowers.  Yet, the yearning for a child is loud in her mind.  Infertility and miscarriage have stolen the crown of motherhood from her.  She must learn to be content and honest when she faces losing everything to have it all.

   An E-ticket for the earliest flight home is Alexis Mark’s ticket out of a life that is crushing her inside.  Finally leaving the love of her life, she goes to stay with her big sister to try to release the hurt of her son’s death and her unraveling marriage.  Her healing comes when she is forced to see the “other woman” as a mom on the edge of losing a child.  She must decide if Peter is a love worth fighting for.

   Kristen McGowen is a nurse in the OB/GYN department of Corbin Bridge Health Clinic.  She has cared for others all of her life, but is now faced with the uncomfortable task of caring for her brother-in-law’s mistress.  If she is
quiet long enough she might learn to listen to the God she helps others to hear and be his tool when the women around her are as fragile as eggs.  In time, she will learn that boring can be beautiful and loneliness isn’t lasting.

  Together they all learn the truth of Humpty Dumpty … shells do break, but the King isn’t just watching a mess on the wall… He’s waiting to see the chick emerge.  The reader will smile as life begins when these chicks hatch.


Saturday’s Lesson

Filed under: Heather's writings — novelized @ 8:42 pm

A high pitched bell rang its way forcefully into her dream. It couldn’t be the alarm. It was Saturday. The twins were old enough to turn on cartoons themselves. Their cereal bowls were set out on the counter with a box of sugar- filled shapes pretending to be food set beside them. She wouldn’t have to emerge until ten. It was most certainly not the alarm. It was loud. Make it stop! She brushed her hair out of her face which was enough for her brain to wake up and her body to lunge for the ringing phone.

“Hello” She answered with a groggy sigh.

“Did I wake you?” The voice whispered back.

“Umm” She looked at the clock on her night stand. Was this a joke! Six forty -five! Uh, yeah she was sleeping.

“I’m sorry. It’s Carol. You were on the call list for church. . . to make meals for the sick.”

Had she really signed up for that? Of course she had, she just figured that in a church her size no one would ever get to her name on the list. It was a perk of having the last name Zeelen.

“Sure. What can I do?”

“Sandy Cooper was admitted to the Hospital early this morning she sings in the choir . . .the blonde with the amazing soprano . . .”

“Yes, I know Sandy. What did she have?”

Apart from the amazing soprano, she also had an over-ripe pregnant belly.

“You didn’t hear then?” Carol got teary on the line “They found out Thursday that its heart had stopped. Sandy ‘s parents are visiting from out of town. They wanted to be here for the birth. It’s so sad, really. The ladies are going to rotate bringing them meals for a while . . .give them some time to cope.”

“When do they need it?”

“Could you make a meal for the ninth.” Carol answered with calendar in hand no doubt.

“ No problem” Samantha answered. It was four days away. Could she not have waited until eight, at least?

It was too late now. Even after the dial tone, she couldn’t drift to sleep deeply enough to make a difference in her mood.

“I’m sorry. I was in the shower or I’d have answered it” Steven said as she stomped into the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

Steven liked the sun. He rose to meet it everyday, Bible in hand.

“I have to make a meal for Sandy Cooper. Wait! Aren’t they vegetarians?” She wrinkled her nose at the idea of touching tofu.

“So make pasta or go on line for a recipe” Steven suggested.

For the next three days she poured over recipes. She was searching for something she couldn’t find. It wasn’t about lost sleep or vegetable lasagna anymore. She had no words.

The twins were five months old when their adoption was made official. It was Samantha’s only hope of being a mother. Time had nearly erased the pain of her attempts. She preferred to count her blessings these days.

She had begged God for a child. She couldn’t wait to sign the dotted line. They made it easy to forget. What would she say to this poor woman? What had she said to herself ?

Wednesday morning she went shopping. The lasagna was going to be colorful. She couldn’t remember ever purchasing so much produce for her own family. She found a yummy looking dessert recipe on line too, similar to a peach cobbler, with granola. She even purchased a six pack of organic orange soda. (It just sounded good).

As the colors mixed and the aroma filled her kitchen her mind became still. She remembered the soft smooth taste of Mrs. Jackson’s shepherd pie, that night eight years ago when she felt too depressed to even look at the food. Mrs. Jackson hadn’t said a word, her food told the story. It was rich with love and flavor. Mrs. Jackson juggled five children and a husband with cancer and she brought a meal that Samantha hadn’t had the heart to turn down. The sacrifice was too big to ignore.

As she pulled into Sandy’s drive way that afternoon she looked at the bag of food in the front seat.

“God, forgive my whining. Please be the words I can’t say. Speak through this meal, and heal their loss”.

Sandy’s mother answered the door and accepted the warmth of wordless comfort