Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Book Review: The Crowded Hour

The Crowded Hour

As we celebrate Memorial Day, I decided to read a book based on one an iconic American – Theodore Roosevelt. When I first opened “The Crowded Hour” (set to be published on June 4), I feared it would be another boring textbook-like history book. But I was pleasantly surprised! Clary Risen and his team created an engaging and exciting historical account of a pivotal moment in American history – the Rough Riders’ contribution to winning the Spanish-American War.
I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in history, the military, imperialism, Theodore Roosevelt, Cuba, and humanitarianism. It’s a thoughtful and important read that helped me better understand my country and its history.

Here are some of my favorite Fun Facts from the book:
Secretary of the Navy Long called Roosevelt (assistant or undersecretary) a bull in a china shop. “Shows how the best fellow in the world-and with splendid capacities-is worse than no use if he lack a cool head and careful discretion.”
“Part of what made Roosevelt a great leader: his ability to identify people whose judgment he could rely on, then use that judgment to make quick decisions.” (value in building trusted relationships)
Unofficial theme song of the regiment and the war: “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.”
One of the Spanish-American war’s ulterior aims and ultimate achievements was reconciliation between the South and the North after the Civil War.
Before the Rough Riders headed via boat from Tampa to Cuba, they and 2,000 horses participated in the last mass calvary demonstration ever put on by the American Army.
One incident of racism: “Historian Willard B. Gatewood, Jr. found that in most cases, white violence – whether against property, civilians, or other soldiers – was dismissed in newspapers as wordiness and steam-blowing, while the same behavior by blacks was written up as ‘rackets’ and ‘riots.'”
The largest invasion force the United States had ever assembled – 31 ships carrying 10 million pounds of rations; 2,295 horses and mules; 16 pieced of artillery; 16,987 men, including 89 war correspondents and 11 foreign observers.
Rough Riders were cowboys, football players, politicians, sports enthusiasts, horsemen from all backgrounds except black.
Why America intervened in Cuba and fought the Spanish: “Universal peace cannot come until justice is enthroned throughout the world. Until the right has triumphed in every land and love reigns in every heart, government must, as a last resort, appeal to force.”
When faced with the opportunity to fight in Cuba: Roosevelt “suddenly transformed into ‘the most magnificent soldier I have ever seen,’ the coolness, the calm judgment, the towering heroism, which made him, perhaps, the most admired and best beloved of all Americans in Cuba.”
About James Church, Assistant Surgeon: “That so few of them [Rough Riders] died is greatly due to this young man who went down into the firing line and pulled them from it.” [War correspondent Richard Harding] Davis wrote. (Church received the Medal of Honor for his actions at Las Guasimas).
“American gumption and guts could compensate greatly for a lack of formal military training.”
Why title the book The Crowded Hour? “It was what Roosevelt has been waiting to hear. They were now to be in the first wave of the assault. ‘The instant I received the order I sprang on my horse,’ he wrote, ‘and my “crowded hour” began.”
On Roosevelt’s leadership: “He set the pace with this horse and inspired the men to follow.”
The value of a strong leader: “Unlike the Spanish soldiers at San Juan Heights, those at El Caney seemed determined to fight to the death–inspired, perhaps, by the tenacity of their commander, Vara del Roy.”
Managing local civilians after battle: “Later generations would learn, as part of their training, to deal with civilians as a matter of fighting war. But in 1898, there was no [such] protocol.”
Naming the White House: Theodore Roosevelt began calling the Executive Mansion the White House, and the name stuck.

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“The Little Love That Could” Book Review

“The Little Love That Could: Stories of Tenacious Love, Underdogs, and Ragamuffins” by Pamela Capone shares personal essays of small, powerful, explosive, quiet, tenacious, and engaging love. These different types of love persevere and never give up as they demonstrate that indeed love can.


Throughout the book, Pamela Capone gives readers insight into her life and the lessons about love that she has learned. I savored each short chapter as a devotional or meditation. The insights helped me see practical and unique ways I can love God, myself, and others better.

Pamela uses humor, Scripture and numerous television/movie references to enhance her insights, and she writes with humor and personality. I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to readers who are curious about love – what love is, how to receive love, and how to show love.  

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” So I say, let’s help each other. Touch hearts. Watch. Listen. Pay attention.”

“We’re imperfect people, so of course we don’t love perfectly. Why, then, would we expect perfection (from others)?”

“When we’re real, we heal.”

“Our gut doesn’t always hold the right instinct. Sometimes, when I rely on what Scripture calls my own understanding–trying to manage a problem, improve it, or defeat it without any help from above–I get in the way of what God might want to do. To put up my hands and say, ‘You do it God; I’m letting go,’ tends to be the riskiest of ventures.”

“Underdog stories inspire us to root for the disadvantaged, help us see the little guy in all of us, and can give us the faith to face the fires of life … if we let them.

“Dogged, determined love is evidence that helps us make leaps of faith despite the lack of hard evidence to the contrary.”

“God suits us up, equips us, and comes alongside. Meanwhile, ‘What if?’ turns into ‘What if a little love could?’ that goes on to say, ‘I think I can, I think I can, because He can.”


Photo by Merete Veian,

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Forest Bathing: A Start Here Guide Book Review

“Imagine a therapy that is completely free, readily available, and virtually without side effects that can radically transform your health by improving your mental health, brain health, heart health, stress resiliency, immune system, and more. It exists, and it’s called nature exposure or forest bathing.”

forest bathing

This quote from “Forest Bathing: A Start Here Guide” sums up the concept of forest bathing. Dr. Cyndi Gilbert is an expert in forest bathing. But more than that, she’s passionate about the therapeutic benefits of nature. “Forest Bathing” offers scientific and practical reasons for her passion and is based on her research, forest bathing experiences around the globe, and her work with patients in her natural medicine practice.

While the book does motivate readers to consider the benefits of spending time in nature every day, some of the information is repeated in different sections of the book, and I skimmed the repeated info. However, I settled into chapter 3 “How to forest bathe” and read every word. It offers new and different methods for forest bathing, and I’m excited to try them in my wooded backyard and local mountain trails. Those suggestions include: 

  • Use your five senses to observe and experience the woods as you look, listen, smell, feel, and taste.
  • Breathe in the scent of the trees and really consider aroma’s nature – and fresh, outdoor air.
  • Stand tall and appreciate the strength and might of trees.
  • Practice mindfulness and consider your emotions, thoughts, concerns, etc.
  • Choose a sit spot and visit it regularly.
  • Work out outdoors.
  • Look at forest as if you were a child. Allow yourself to be drawn into the experience and wonder of nature.
  • Remain grateful for what you see, hear, smell, etc.

I also enjoyed reading about the ways forest bathing helps us manage our emotions effectively. Time in nature resets our nervous system, activates the cortex which is associated with emotional stability, love, empathy, and altruistic motivation, and improves our self-compassion. I know I need all of these benefits each day!

This book is indeed a starting guide to forest bathing. It’s a fairly quick read with solid information that helps newbies learn more about what forest bathing is and why it matters.

As I read, I realized that I miss nature. Sure, I go outside every day, but I’m usually in a hurry. Truly appreciating nature requires me to slow down. For this reason, I’ve decided to incorporate a weekly hike each week on a nearby trail. I feel relaxed already!

Who wants to join me in forest bathing this week?

beth scupham forest bathing

Photo courtesy Beth Scupham

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May the Fourth Be With You

In Daniel 3, we read an amazing story of three men who obeyed God despite the threat of death. They trusted God so much that they were willing to die for their beliefs. In case you’ve forgotten the story, here’s a refresher.

Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon made an image of gold and sent word for all the people to gather for the dedication of the image. A herald told the people to bow down and worship the golden image and everyone complied except three Jewish men.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, administrators in the Babylon province, refused to bow down. Even after Nebuchadnezzar confronted them, the men replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18, NASB)

In response, the king ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than normal. Valiant soldiers tied up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and tossed the three men into the furnace. The furnace was so hot, though, that the soldiers were killed instantly as they threw the men into it.

But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived. In fact, the king and his high officials saw four men walking around in the furnace. Puzzled, the king called to the men and told them to walk out. When they obeyed, they appeared unharmed and didn’t even smell like smoke.

daniel 3 1

Photo originally published at

Nebuchadnezzar responded with praise for God who sent His angel to deliver His servants who put their trust in Him and refused to serve or worship any other god except their own God.

What an awesome story of deliverance! These three men chose to obey God and trusted Him. They didn’t care if He delivered them or not. They loved Him so much that they committed to obedience. 

As we recall this story today, you may be facing a tough challenge that’s testing your faith. You want to remain faithful to God and trust and obey Him in the midst of terminal cancer, an unfaithful spouse, a wayward child, an addiction, or loneliness. But your faith may be small. There’s a small part of you that wonders if God truly will show up.

We’ve all been there, and the struggle is real. Take heart, friend. He is faithful. Whether He delivers you or not, He will come for you and walk with you as He did with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

daniel 3 2

Image from 1000+ ideas about Vacation Bible School on Pinterest.

May the Fourth be with you.
(Thank you to Pamela Capone and her book “The Little Love That Could” for the inspiration for this post.)

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You Are God’s Artwork

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Self Care Starts With One Small Step

bring peace

When I need to participate in self-care, I sip a cup of hot mint tea or flavored coffee, pet our cat, read a book, or take a walk.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?

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Review: Breaking The Power Of Negative Words

breaking power negative wordsWords have power. Just this week, I spent a few extra minutes one morning styling my hair, and I  thought about a comment my elementary school classmates made about my dark locks over 35 years ago. That particular day, I had taken extra time to curl my thick, straight hair, and I thought the curly style looked beautiful. Instead of praising my new do, though, several kids criticized it and called my hair a “mop.” Ever since that day, I’ve hated my hair. It never occurred to me to be grateful for my thick hair until I met Joyce a few years ago. She repeatedly told me how much she loved the way my hair curled and its thickness. I chose to believe her and now love my hair. See? Negative words can deflate and discourage us while positive words can inspire and encourage us.

Mary Busha understands the power of words. She uses this book to help readers recognize the power of both positive and negative words. The book outlines the practical steps we can take to form healthier habits with the words we speak. It also discusses ways we can learn to forgive others for saying negative words and change our negative word habits into positive habits.

On almost every page, I was encouraged and motivated to make changes. I appreciated Mrs. Busha’s conversational yet educational writing style that shares deep concepts without being dry or boring. Also, in addition to scripture, she includes examples from her life and the lives of others in each chapter. These examples helped me connect emotionally to the concepts. The thoughtful discussion questions at the end of each chapter prompted me to go deeper and reinforced my understanding of the chapter’s concepts

After I finished reading this book, I thought of all the people I know who would benefit from it, including people who invest in me with positive words, people I know who have been wounded from negative words, and people who wound others. Basically, it’s a book that’s ideal for anyone and everyone. I highly recommend it. 5 Stars!


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Book Review: Under Pressure

under pressure

Anxiety affects our daughters in frightening ways. However, Dr. Lisa Damour’s book “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls” addresses common causes of stress and anxiety and offers tips that help parents and girls manage these causes in effective and unique ways.

The big takeaways from this book for me include:

1. Anxiety can be an ally rather than an enemy. What would happen if we would see our anxious feelings as a prompt to pause and check in with how we’re feeling? This pause can help us regain control.

2. Nerves can range from protective to disruptive. Wherever we are on this continuum, we have hope that our feelings are not permanent and will change in time.

3. Stress and anxiety can accumulate. That leads us to overreact over small things. We can build slack into our schedule so we have time to relax, unwind, sleep, and rest.

4. “Settle the glitter” or take time to pause and clear our heads when our first reaction is anxiety. We’re not locked into our first reaction because our second reaction may be a solution or a reminder of what we can do to manage or resolve the challenging situation.

5. Mindfulness is a way for us to become intimately familiar with the landscape of our inner lives. This practice can equip us to know ourselves and our triggers and coping mechanisms better.

6. When we face conflict, we often act like a bulldozer, a doormat or a doormat with spikes (passive-aggressive), but the goal is to be a pillar. Recognize our tendency and look for ways to stand up for ourselves without stepping on anyone.

7. We do need to succeed at school because our grades and performance affect our college admission, but let’s be more efficient and tactical. How can we work smarter and not harder? Can we study less in a subject we ace and put our time and efforts into a subject that’s harder?

I liked that Dr. Damour uses the word “we” and shares dialogues with clients throughout the book. I truly felt as I read that she was in this together with me and was coaching and cheering me along as I understand anxiety and stress better.

I also liked her practical tips as she provides effective ways to deal with social media, the news, peer pressure, boys, sexual harassment, school, grades, and conflict. The resources for parents and children also are useful.

I didn’t appreciate that Dr. Damour speaks primarily from her clients’ experiences. While her advice is helpful, she admits in the book that she has only experienced one panic attack, and readers should know that she does not share advice that she has personally followed successfully in her own life.

Overall, I would recommend this book to parents of children in mid-elementary to college. It offers a unique perspective on anxiety and stress and helps us equip our daughters to manage their feelings when they’re under pressure.


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February 5, Safer Internet Day

safe internet day

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Book Review: Little Princes

little princes

This book is important. It shares details about child trafficking in Nepal and one man’s goal to reunite families. In addition to learning more about the trafficking crisis, this book includes information about Nepalese culture, politics and terrain.

Mesmerizing and entertaining, this book is filled with love – love for children, a country and friends.

I’m adding “Little Princes” to my “read again” list and encourage others to read it too.

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