Author: Hale Homestead

Homeschool Book Review: A Long Way from Chicago

Homeschool Book Review: A Long Way from Chicago

My girls and I attended Teach Them Diligently (homeschool conference) this spring, and I attended some fabulous seminars! One of them was called, “Navigating the Library with Wisdom,” by Whitney Newby from Brighter Day Press. I can write more about that experience later, but that got me thinking about the readers in my house and the vast knowledge of books we have. Some of the moms in the seminar were feeling lost, trying to keep up with tween & teenage readers, and not knowing where to find trustworthy book reviews. So today, we’re finally bringing you our first homeschool book review!

Today’s review is a book that was part of our Sonlight 100, American History for 9th grade. Thank you, Elizabeth, for the following book review from a high school, home school perspective.

A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck, was a pleasant surprise. I had to read it for school, so I had mediocre expectations. I was afraid that it would be slow and dull. But boy, was I wrong!

A Long Way From Chicago takes place between 1929 and the 30s. It’s about two kids going out into the middle of nowhere to stay with their grandma for the summer. Each chapter is a new summer, and every time, Grandma Dowdel makes sure things never slow down. I wish I could tell you all my favorite schemes – but that would ruin the story. 😉

Grandma Dowdel never ceases to amaze me – or her grandkids, or the people she exacts her revenge upon. I honestly don’t remember if it’s perfectly clean or not – Grandma Dowdel was definitely not a law-abiding citizen. And there was a corpse. But it was like one of those “classic children’s tales,” as my mom likes to call them. You know, the kind where a wolf eats someone or another animal and the mother of the eaten character sharpens her scissors, cuts the wolf open, gets her child back, stuffs the wolf full of rocks, and stitches him back up, so that when he wakes up to go get a drink, he sinks to the bottom of the pond. Or just doesn’t wake up at all.

But altogether, it was one of the most hilarious books I’ve ever read – partially because Grandma Dowdel felt familiar. The audiobook was especially enjoyable, and I can’t recommend it enough. I read the book, then listened to the audiobook with my mom, and I read and listened to the sequel, A Year Down Yonder. There’s also a Christmas one, A Season of Gifts, that my mom has listened to and enjoyed, but I haven’t yet.

In conclusion, A Long Way From Chicago gets five stars!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

OK… wow… well, that review was fun! (I’d like to add that this was indeed a clean book, and I would have never compared it to the “classic children’s tales.” lol) I’m surprised that a school book is what she chose to review first, but Sonlight does include some amazing books in their curriculum. When we weren’t using Sonlight for our core, I still used their website and catalog to find great books to read.

Most of Elizabeth’s shelf is full of middle grade or YA fantasy, so I think it’s fair to say that we’ll have some of those reviews coming in the future. If you found this post because you were looking for clean book reviews, please let us know in the comments what type of book reviews you’d like to read.

About the reviewer:

Elizabeth is a teenage Christian homeschooler who enjoys reading, sketching, painting, and playing any sort of game that is competitive. She is an aspiring author and has a YA/middle grade fantasy trilogy in the works, which she plans on publishing. She loves guinea pigs, of which she has three, and fervently believes that guinea pigs are the cutest animals ever to walk the face of the earth. Nothing will change her mind.

Things I’ve learned in the last 50 years

There. I said it. I keep referring to this year as “my big birthday year.” It’s hard to come right out with that number, though! I’d much rather say it’s my “Year of Jubilee!” But there it is. I’m turning 50 next week.

What is it about the big ones that cause introspection? I guess it naturally makes you think, “Am I where I thought I would be at this point?” and, “Am I happy with where I actually am at this point?” and, “What have I learned that I need to share with others?” It’s that last question that I’ll be touching on today. And by no means will I be covering every lesson I’ve ever learned!

1) God is faithful.

I think the #1 thing I’ve learned in my years, without a doubt, is how faithful God is and how important it is to spend time getting to know Him.

A common phrase I hear from others that would agree with my #1 is, “I don’t know how someone who doesn’t know the Lord can survive this (whatever the situation may be).” How does anyone get through loneliness, fear, depression, betrayal, loss, and more?I lean so heavily on the Lord. Reading, writing and/or listening to the Bible give me peace and comfort like nothing else.

2) Forgive and move on.

What’s in the past is done. There’s nothing that can be done about it, so put on your big girl panties and move on. Again, the peace God gives really helps with this. See #1.

3) Accessories can make you feel better.

I know I went deep, and now this sounds vain! Hear me out! I’ve done a lot of vendor events with my Lilla Rose Hair Accessories in the last 12 years and I see this happen repeatedly, however! A woman will be speaking negatively about herself or her hair, “nothing ever works in my hair,” “that would be great…if I could get it to work,” “my hair is too (thin/thick/curly/straight – you can insert a plethora of things here!).”

Then that moment happens when she tries on a Flexi-Clip and her friends start to rave about how beautiful she looks! She looks in the mirrors or at the picture on my phone and gasp! I have seen grown women start to cry. Women ask, “THAT’S ME???” Little girls’ faces light up with joy! All because they found the right accessory.

You can read my other post about the hair care products I use for my hair here.

4) We were made for relationships.

Forget the whole 50 years of life. ONE year alone taught the world how desperately important it is to have relationships with real people. I’m an extreme introvert by nature, but I forced myself to reach out to people that I knew were not doing well during the isolation of 2020. I knew that they were hurting to hear a voice, receive a text, feel a hug, and just know that someone cared.

I learned that even though I’m not naturally drawn to people, I had something valuable I could offer them, because introverts make pretty good listeners! Interestingly enough, I learned that I don’t have to be something I’m not, I just have to be me.

I read a great book last year called, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs YOU to be YOU, by Holley Gerth. I highly recommend this book for introverts and people who love them! It was my #1 book pick from those I listened to or read in 2022. I liked this audiobook so much that I bought the book, too!

5) God still speaks.

I know there are lots of poeple who say God speaking was for the Old Testament, but I’m here to tell you that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and if He spoke in the Old Testament, he still speaks today. All the different ways I’ve heard God speak would be for another post at another time, because that’s a big topic! But I’m here to tell you today: God still speaks. You just have to be quiet and receptive in order to hear Him.

6) Time with kids goes by way too fast.

Everybody says it. And really, it’s not helpful at all when you’re an over-exhausted mom with a newborn and a 2-year old. “Enjoy the time now, because it goes by so quickly.”

I mean, on the one hand, I feel like they’re never going to move out. On the other hand. my son is already a legal adult and my oldest daughter could legally get married in 2 years! Two more are already in middle school, and I do long for those days when Mom was everything to them.

Now, if I haven’t taught them to love God and his Word (see #1), then these years were pointless. There’s so much to teach them! I am beyond thankful, however, that we choose to homeschool, so I have been able to give them more of myself than I feel like I would have been able to otherwise.

7) Audio books count.

OK, they may not count in your particular Summer Reading Program at the library (no, I’m not bitter about that), but THEY COUNT! I wish I had realized this when my kids were babies! I would have gotten to so many more books!

I’ve been forced to spend 2 hours in the car almost every weekday for the last 2 years, and I am so thankful for audiobooks, podcasts, and recorded training sessions! I may not retain as much as if I’d been able to give my full attention, but I am retaining information, learning, and improving my listening skills.

My daughter finally wrote a book review for this blog, and we enjoyed this audio book immensely! Read it here!

8) People love free stuff.

This is all people, right? Doesn’t everyone love free stuff? Since it’s my birthday month, and I love to celebrate, I’m hosting a birthday party and giving away the gifts! If I get at least 100 entries on this entry form below, I’ll give out 5 prizes from my Lilla Rose Hair Accessories business and/or my Mary & Martha Christian Resources business!

Don’t miss the BIG points for my BIG birthday – Set up your Lilla Rose account** using the link on the Rafflecopter and complete my Google Form linked on the Rafflecopter, and those are worth FIVE points each!

GIVEAWAY HERE: Sorry the form isn’t showing up… something about Javascript and WordPress that’s a little above what I can comprehend at the moment. Just click this link to get to it:

** If you already have a Lilla Rose account, please do not set up another one! If you have an account with another Independent Lilla Rose Stylist as your rep, please do not set up another!

Welp, I guess that covers it for now; just a tiny drop in the bucket of things I’ve learned in my 50-year lifetime. I’ve got so much to be thankful for and proud of. I may not be exactly where I thought I would be at this point, but yes, I do believe I’m pretty happy with where I am. I’m absolutely not saying there’s nothing in my life that needs improvement, but I have peace and joy in my current circumstances, and I know that’s a rare commodity.

My Top Five Hair Care Products for Soft & Manageable Hair

Let’s Care for Your Hair!

My hair has felt more soft and manageable ever since Lilla Rose launched our Hair Care Line!

This is a BIG birthday year for me – 2023 is my Year of Jubilee! – and I’ve got an increasing number of tinsel strands gracing my head. Those hairs seem to have a mind of their own, but LR Hair Care helps me to keep them in check.

We call these our Essentials Line, and I regularly use the Hair TowelRosewater MistHair MasqueHair Serum, and Wide Tooth Comb, and I love how they make my hair easy to comb and soft to the touch! Here are my top selections, in no particular order:

1) Rose Water Mist

I did a whole blog post explaining Rosewater here. I still love the stuff! I love the smell and the softness it brings to my hair. At my last gathering, a friend told me that she uses it as a facial toner. My Granny used to use Rose Milk Lotion, and this smell takes me back to those days. I love my Rosewater!

2) Hair Masque

Hair Masque is sooo smooth and creamy! The instructions say to use on towel-dried hair, leave on for 5-10 minutes, then rinse. I do that occasionally, but my favorite way to use the Masque is to add a pea-size amount to the ends of my hair dry, and leave it in. I do this probably 3 times a week, and keep this tube on my desk for easy access!

3) Hair Serum

Y’all. Hair Serum was publicly introduced in February 2023. But I was able to use it for about 2 months before it went live. I had no idea how to use it before I got some, so what I did was take two drops of the oil in the palm of my hand, then get some on my fingertips and massage that into the crown of my head. Then I rubbed my hands together and use the rest on the length of my hair. About 2 weeks later, I noticed NEW HAIRS around the crown of my head! I was so ecstatic! So then I started massaging Hair Serum into my temples where the hair has gotten a litle thinner, and the same thing happened! I’m hooked!

4) Hair Towels

Yes, I added an ‘s’ on that word! For faster dry time, I recommend our Bamboo Hair Towel! Alternatively, the (purple) Cotton Gauze Hair Towel allows you to dry just a little bit slower, which is helpful for the curly girls out there! I actually use a combination of both, depending on the day.

5) Wide Tooth Comb

I use the Wide Tooth Comb daily. It’s perfect for my hair. It’s also great for using in the shower when you’re doing the Hair Masque treatment, and using dry to work the Masque or Serum through your dry hair. Such a useful tool. See our Essentials page for an assortment of brush and comb types to meet your needs.

I just started using the Silk Pillowcase, too! I’ll add my thoughts on that soon! We also have Hair Mascara to cover your roots or add temporary color to your hair, Sea Salt Spray for texture, Thermal Defense for heat protection, and more! See the full collection of hair Essentials here!

If you’re here for a party, click here to go directly to your Hostess’s shopping link when you’re ready to select some accessories and hair care!

I bet your wish list growing and growing, right??

Is your wish list getting too long?

Host a Party!

If you like what you see and would love to have more beautiful accessories, I would love to spoil you with a party! I can do a limited number of in-person Style Ups in my area of North Central Texas, text or email parties, catalog parties, and Party-on-Demand format! If you don’t have any accessories yet, you may qualify for a Party-in-a-Bag, where I send you some samples to try out and share with friends & family. Read more about the Hostess Rewards here. Email me at or text my business number here: (254) 988-7217

Want it ALL??

Join the Sisterhood!

You meet amazing people in direct sales and make some great friendships, and Lilla Rose is no exception. We have an amazing community of Stylists who work together with team and not-even-team members all over the country. I never cease to be amazed by the generosity and willingness of Lilla Rose Stylists to help each other out.

Lilla Rose offers a free website, no monthly fees, generous commission, and your own stash of accessories to choose from daily! You can work this business through parties, craft & vendor events, online orders, or 1-on-1 sales either part-time, full-time or as a hobby. Lilla Rose offers monthly, quarterly and annual incentives to help you meet the goals you set for yourself, and free training as well.

If you’re here for a party, make sure to take the action step requested to get your Door Prize entry, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Top 5 Most Comfortable Hair Accessories for Busy Moms & More!

Let’s find Hair Accessories that don’t hurt your head!

We’ve all been there. Some of these hair accessories are painful! I’m a busy mom – homeschooling and homesteading take up most of my time. I need hair accessories and hair care that is easy and most of all, COMFORTABLE!

Lilla Rose to the rescue!

In my opinion, here are the top most comfortable hair accessories, in order of comfort (#1 being the most comfortable to me):

1) Wood Pin Flexi Flip 

With their all-natural materials, these are so lightweight (yet still durable), that I can barely tell I’m wearing anything in my hair! Bonus: One of them is named after me! See below! That’s me – Sue Ellen Wood Pin Flexi Flip on the left; Courtney Wood Pin Flexi Flip on the right. These, along with all the other clips listed below, are just as easy to use as the original Flexi-Clip, so that’s a plus as well!

2) Flexi Sport 

These are also lightweight, but the grippy texture holds the hair really well! I use the Medium as a Small for a ponytail and the Extra as a Medium for a full twist! (Based on Flexi Flip sizing chart) These are waterproof and hold everything in place really well, even during an exercise or sports activity!

3) Flexi Flip 

The Flip is reversable, so one clip will cover several of your sizes. In these photos, I’m wearing a Medium on the left and an Extra on the right. More of my hair is wrapped in the Extra, but I’m also using it flipped to the smaller size. See more in the video below.

I’m also actually using a Flip in the video found under the next section, too!

4) Flexi Clip 

It’s the gold standard. Seven sizes means the right size for you should also be a comfortable fit for you! I most often use a Flexi-Clip for my half-ups and full twists because I love the variety of beautiful centerpieces and beadwork! There is literally a color or designs that will suit every personality and style!

In the above video, I’m using a FLIP, but all of these Clips are all similar enough that any style I can do with a Flip, I can also do with a Clip or a Sport! (now that’s a mouthful!) How do I choose from day-to-day? Usually, I choose based on the design or colors. For the video above, the “Penny” Flip is the only thing I had with some green in it, to match my shirt that day.

5) Acrylic Upins 

I love these little powerhouse hair forks – Acrylic Upins!! They’re super easy for a quick bun, so it’s handy to keep these where you spend your time – one in your purse, in your desk pencil cup, in the car, in your shower caddy, on your bedside table.

They’re perfect for a high bun in the shower (waterproof!) on a “no-poo” day and great for a high bun to sleep in! With over 20 colors to choose from, there will be one that goes with your style and your outfit!

Though we rarely think about it – everyone’s head is a little bit differently shaped. So we may not all rank comfort on the same scale. I’ve heard from quite a few people, however, that would agree with my comfort scale.

So were you looking for hair ties that cause the least amount of damage, too?

Maybe a tie is not exactly what you need! All of the accessories I just mentioned for comfort are also gentle on your hair, and I rarely pull out hair when using them. (I don’t believe that statement could describe the elastic alternatives!)

There is a slight learning curve to this type of barrette or pin, but after using these exclusively for over 10 years, I find them much easier to use than elastics and ties!

When you shop with me, I am happy to help you learn how to use your accessories, too!

Here from a Party?

<Click here> to go directly to your Hostess’s shopping link if you’re ready to shop now! Please note that if you click a link on this blog post, it’ll take you to my website, but not to a specific party. If you’re here from a party, please use this link to get to your Hostess’s shopping link, so she’ll get the credit for your order! Let’s bless your Hostess!

Take a quick break and head over to my VIP Community on Facebook, too! Request membership and I’ll get you approved ASAP! If you’re already in, or when you request membership in my VIP Community, that will give you another Door Prize Entry!

Enjoy the comfort of Lilla Rose!