Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July in Review

 Hope I am not boring you, friends, but I have begun to really enjoy these month in review posts because it reminds me of the things we have accomplished.  We are winding down our summer fun with one more small trip to the Black Hills soon and enjoying the cool weather here, as we start back to full time school at the end of August.


Of course, the month started off with the 4th of July!  We spent a wonderful day with friends and then watched fireworks before heading home.  I remember when seeing fireworks was a bother due to traffic and too many people!  There is just something about a small town that makes holidays even more special!  Have I mentioned we love this place?

And then there was the week my girls went to Drama camp.  Our 16-year-old was there for drama and acted in one of the final productions - The Somewhat True Tale of Robinhood.  Our oldest was there for an internship and to do the costuming.  She loved being back on campus and seeing friends and learned so much! We joined them at the end of the week to see the performance.

Three of mine plus a friend!
When she is not interning, this is where you will find my oldest.  She does all of the alterations for a dry cleaner in town now, plus a ton of business on the side.  She is a sewing maniac!

Plus, see that little piggy?  He did not go to market.  He went to our freezer- guess what our Blogging Through the Alphabet Letter P will be? ;)

And this, believe it or not, is about school planning, which is what I have spent a lot of time doing lately!  A lot!

Hope your July was blessed as well!  Onward to a new month!


Monday, July 28, 2014

N is for No More Excuses

I have struggled in writing this post.  As a matter of fact, my Monday posts are usually written pretty far in advance, but this one - last minute.  It has been swirling in my head for a few weeks, but getting it down on paper has been a challenge.

I need to lose 15 pounds.

Yep, there, I said it.  Out loud.  In front of the world.  Or just my readers. ;)

I lost weight few years ago right after my hysterectomy and in my struggle to get healthy again.  But here I am a few years later and almost right back where I started.


Well, let's see.

Stress has gotten the best of me. (excuse)  There has been a lot going on in my life and in my head, too, many irons in the fire, and when that happens I seem to mindlessly eat.  Pain has also gotten the best of me. (excuse)  For the past 5 months I have been struggling with hip and leg pain that has had me on medicine, on a heating pad daily, in physical therapy, attached to a TENS unit, and now waiting for a shot.  A lot of time sitting has equaled a lot of time to eat.  Because of that pain I have not exercised since March. (another excuse)  Oh, I have exercises from my PT gals, but they are strength things, not really get-in-shape stuff.  My daughter also has a "new to us" wheat allergy and we have been buying different foods she can eat.  (bad excuse)  Yep, potato chips and tortilla chips are two of the few snack foods she is eating and if they are in the house, I am eating them too.  No will power. (is that another excuse?)  Plus, I have five other people to feed, three meals a day and I hate fixing different foods for everyone. (excuse)  And at this point I am extremely frustrated and ready to hide under the covers. (excuse, but seeing a trend here?)

Wanna hear something even worse?  Right now I am a part of an online group to lose weight.  Instead of being encouraged, I sink further into frustration with every picture they post of smoothies.  Who eats like that?  I do not like smoothies no matter how hard I try.  (excuse)  Milkshakes, yes, smoothies, no. The gals in the group are doing great.  Me, not so much.

Oh my, I could go on and on but the bottom line is, I can excuse myself all the way to the 15 pounds and probably more if I keep up this trend.

Time for a change.  And no more excuses.

The plan?  Well, that may be where the hard part comes in.  I do not have one. Yet.  But starting tomorrow, things have got to change.  They will!

I am thinking mostly salads for lunch, and only meat and two veggies at dinner.  Breakfast is my hardest...remember I don't like smoothies.  Carbs are out the door as are the chips with lunch.  In the past, counting calories is really the only thing that helped me.  "Eat healthy" - for the most part we do, except the chips.  "Don't eat out" - we hardly do.  "No sweets" - not usually an issue for me.  "Limit processed food" - got rid of that stuff several years ago.

So my problem?  Eating too much of even the "good stuff."

The answer - stop eating so much.

No excuses.

Wish me luck.

And if you want to join me, let me know what your plan is.  Misery loves company! ;)


Ben and Me


Friday, July 25, 2014

The final verse! 52 weeks of Family Scripture Memorization

After many weeks we have finally come to the end of our big verse challenge - Phil. 4:4-9.  If you missed our original post and the inspiration behind it, you will find that here!

It seems long, I know, and it is harder than you think it is going to be, I know, but I also know we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. (Phil. 4:13)

And you know what? Kids are even better at this than we are.  And it pleases God!  Good enough for me!

So here ya go!  Let's see what we can do...

See ya next week as we spend two months working on verses from the book of Psalms.  Don't worry, a few verses at a time, I promise! ;)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flourish- TOS Crew Review

I love my job as a reviewer.  Really, I do!  My kids have been so blessed to be exposed to amazing curriculum and other great products out there that we may have otherwise never even heard about.  But, occasionally an even more fun "perk" happens - a product just for mom.

Flourish Book Review

Yes, this time I was blessed by Apologia Education Ministries with the book Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms.  The name intrigued me immediately.  Balance is something I have been struggling with in this season of my life and instead of flourishing, I would describe myself as wilting.  Seriously.

But God, in His perfect timing, allowed this book to come into my life and I feel like I am on the road back...with the goal of flourishing in sight!

First a word about the name of this book.  I am a little troubled by the "Balance for Homeschool Moms" part.  Yes, author Mary Jo Tate is a homeschooling mom, but this book is truly for every woman out there, in my opinion.  Please do not let the title turn you away.  If I had all the money in the world, I would gift every woman I know, plus the ones I don't, with a copy of this book.  It is like salve to the soul.   From practical advice, to forms to use to streamline your life, to scripture to inspire and words to encourage, you will feel that Mary Jo is talking just to YOU!

  Whether you are married or single, have 10 children or none, homeschool or not, own a business or stay at home, this book has something to offer you.  

Grab a cup of tea, pull up a comfy chair and let me tell you why I love it!

Chapter one introduces you to Mary Jo and her book, why she wrote it, and what she hopes it will do for you - an invitation to flourish.  Say hi to your new friend!

Flourish means to grow vigorously, luxuriate, be revived or abound. 

Chapter two is titled Change Your Mind to Change Your Time.  It is all about determining your ideal and your reality and then coming to peace with the space in between.  As Mary Jo says, it is about "life management, not time management."  This chapter really got me thinking about changing my attitude from "not enough time" to "how can I make the time?"

Chapter three uses the FREEDOM toolbox to help you change your behavior. By Focusing, Reflecting, Educating, Eliminating, Disciplining, Organizing, and Multitasking, you can meet life's challenges.  OK, honesty time here - eliminating is the biggest challenge for me.  But guess what Mary Jo says?  Are you ready?

"...not everything that needs to be done is something you need to do."

Ouch!  Does that speak to anyone else but me?

Chapter four is Where Did My Time Go?  Now, that is a good question! ;)  And one you can answer using Mary Jo's time log chart.  This was the hardest TAKE ACTION exercise I did.  She recommends you log your time spent in 30 minute increments for at least a week.  I lasted two days.  Yep, pitiful.  Want to know why?  One, I KNEW what it was going to show.  And two, I didn't want it to show that.  And so, friends, this is one area that I am currently working on.  Big time!  I am ashamed to admit how much time I spend  waste on things that are not really important.

Chapter five is about setting goals.  Family and individual.  Mary Jo encourages you to think big, so I did!

Chapter six  uses 7 essential planning tools to help you get more organized.  If you are a charts and lists kind of gal, you are going to love this chapter.

Chapter seven is about interruptions and how we handle them.  A popular misconception of  homeschool moms seems to be that we are available at the drop of a hat.

"It's important to show God's love by serving people, but you can't be available on demand for everyone all of the time without neglecting your own family."

This, too, I am working on.  Things like not answering the phone during school hours and not dropping my kids' needs to meet others' first.  As my husband often says, "your crisis is not my emergency." (he doesn't say this to me!)

Chapter eight  focuses on our attitudes.  As Elisabeth Elliot says, "Feelings, like thoughts, must be brought into captivity."  Yes, and Amen!  This may be a chapter we should read and re-read, friends. I don't know about you, but I know my attitude needs to be adjusted in several areas in my life.  How about yours?

Chapter nine is titled Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days.  After reading about nutrition, hydration, exercise, and sleep, you will see why.

Chapter ten is about training your children.  Why, oh why, is this chapter highlighted and dog-eared in my book so often?  Mary Jo talks about not just chores and such, but training them in taking initiative and  serving others.  Hmmmm, maybe we all need a lesson in those things.  She also has some great examples of chore charts in this chapter.            

Chapter eleven concentrates on making memories.  I loved this chapter as well.  We have a regular Friday Family Night at our house so this is not a new concept to me.  It is always fun to read about what others do though and get some new ideas.  For just the cost of your time, you can make memories that your kids will cherish for years.

Chapter twelve is Managing Your Home! If you already know me, you know that this chapter was one of my favorites.  From housekeeping to organization and meals, Mary Jo has some great tips - including the reminder to make hospitality a habit.

Chapter thirteen is for you homeschooling moms.  It is a good reminder that no two homeschools look or operate the same, and that's ok.  Find what works for you and go for it.

Chapter fourteen is for you single moms.  Even if you are not single, please take the time to read this chapter.  Though Mary Jo would have never thought she would be a single mom, she found herself in that position.  Because of her personal experience she not only can minister to those who are also in that season of life, but also help those of us who are not to bless those ladies.  Having often spent many times alone when my military husband was deployed, I can attest to what the help of a friend can mean and was grateful for the reminder to help and support others in a similar situation.

Chapter fifteen strengthened and inspired me.  It is about home businesses.  Though blogging is not a business for me, it takes up much of my time and therefore I treat it like a business often.  Questions like, "what is working" and "what is not working" and "how can I include my children in this" are important factors to consider.  This is one of the first chapters I want my soon-to-graduate from college daughter to read.

Chapter sixteen is Moving Ahead.  Think of it as one big Take Action chapter.  As Mary Jo says-

Tools and strategies are only as good as the actions you take on them.

We need to celebrate what is working our lives.  We also need to seek out the things that are not working in our lives and make changes!  With all of the practical steps Mary Jo shares throughout her book, I am confident you can do it.  Me too!

Additional thoughts - Each chapter is followed by a TAKE ACTION checksheet full of ideas and action steps.  Use it!  Let's face it, we can read all kinds of great things and even shake our heads in agreement, but until we actually DO something, take action, apply it to our life, nothing is ever going to change.  Some of these actions will be easy for you.  Others you will find, like I did, are painfully hard.  But they are required for change.  You will find in the appendix recommended resources as well as the forms Mary Jo references.  You will also be able to log into her website to print those forms out.  Try them!  If they don't fit your needs, find ones that do.  And don't forget the pre-book self evaluation and post-book progress check.  They will be eye opening, I assure you.

Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms can be purchased from Apologia for $15.00

Flourish Book Review Mary Jo Tate is an author, book coach, international editor, and single mom of four boys.  Other books she has written include How Do You Do It All?Get Started as a Freelance Editor, and Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. As host of the Flourish At Home show on the Homeschool Radio Network, Mary Jo can also be found on Facebook:  and Twitter:

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If You Were Me and Lived in... Australia Book Review

With the help of Away We Go Media we have been traveling again.  This time to Australia!

OK, unfortunately only in our minds and through the pages of a book, but it has been fun none the less. 

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Australia written by Carole P. Roman, and intended for children preschool to 8 years old, is filled with country facts presented in a fun way. From fun places to visit, what foods to eat and common names of children, kids will learn all kinds of things about a place many of us will never have the good fortune to visit in person.  This colorful, 22pg book is sure to engage your young reader!

Did you know that:
  • "Australia" comes from Latin and means "south"
  • The capital city of Australia is Canberra
  • Vegemite really is a sandwich spread!
  • Cricket is a popular sport in Australia and played with balls, bats, and two "wickets"

For any words you might struggle with, there is a pronunciation guide in the back of the book to help you along.

Sound familiar?  A while back we had the privilege of reviewing four earlier books in the series - Norway, France, Mexico, and South Korea.  They have all become favorites of my 7 year old, who can now read them by himself and provide accents to most of the reading!  Hey, if it entertains him, so be it! ;)  I just love that he is being exposed to cultures different from ours.  Being adopted, I find that it helps him to see that he is not the only one who is "different," but to instead understand that the world is made up of many "different" people, each with colorful backgrounds and stories.  

These would be great gifts for the traveling families or just geography loving kids in your life!  Turkey and Kenya have also been recently added to the list of available books.  All can be seen on Carole's website!

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Australia can be purchased for 8.99 at Amazon