Jul 242014
Master Packing List image

Whew! I just got less than a week ago and now I have to pack again. Truth be  told, I never completely unpacked from last trip! (They say confession is good for the soul but that just made me feel guilty!)

Most of our trips seem to be spontaneous. Every time I try to plan in advance something always comes up and our plans get delayed. More often than not, I see there’s a few consecutive days without pressing appointments and decide we need a change of scenery, pile up the kids and off we go. 

I don’t get to do as many road trips as we used to. Now there are older kids. With jobs. Or a husband. But I remember a time when very often I would pile four kids (didn’t take as many once #5 arrived because of the age difference and the older kids had jobs) in the minivan and off we would go. 

We all loved our road trips. Sure, I had the “Are we there yet?” thrown at me a few times but we made such great memories in the vehicle that the trip was always fun too. In fact, we have a traditional “Road Trip Song”. This past week, all five kids, a friend of one, and spouse of another all got to go on a trip together. Not sure how often that will ever get to happen. We ended up taking three vehicles but before we separated and left, the kids insisted on singing our song since we wouldn’t be in the same vehicle for the trip. It made me smile that keeping such a silly tradition was important to them even when the older two are now in their 20′s.

Master Packing List image

One thing that always kept me sane was a Master Packing List. Of course, I really shouldn’t call it a “Master” since it changes depending on where we are travelling to and who all is going. Now, I no longer have babies so of course it doesn’t include diaper bag items and we live in Florida so we rarely go where we need coats or heavy winter attire. But this is the go-to list that I use now. I print it off to give the kiddos. (For camps, I usually add “sleeping bag or bedding” and print off the same list.)

Master Packing List (click to open PDF file)


Do you have any road trip traditions or tips to make travelling easier? Please share.




Jul 232014
Flourish book review

When I was first given the opportunity to review Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms, I looked at the sample on the website of Apologia Educational Ministrities. The sample begins with Chapter One which contains a list of questions (challenges) and if you answer “yes” to any, then this book is for you. Well…(ahem) I answered “yes” to every single one so I was thrilled when I received this paperback book!!

Flourish book review


Mary Jo Tate knows her stuff. I thought I had a lot of life and responsibilities to balance, but she has even more, and she handles it well. Often times I feel like I am just trying to survive. (Definitely wasn’t flourishing.) Mary Jo (I feel like we are kindred spirits, hence the first name basis) is a single mom of four boys by no choice of her own and to fulfill her calling to stay at home and homeschool her boys, she found opportunities to work at home. I think that is admirable. 

Flourish Book Review
First, I have to say I love books.  I read everything cover to cover. And if it’s non-fiction, I usually have a highlighter and/or pen. Reading for me has to be interactive! What I noticed immediately was all of the “praise reports” on the first few pages. Yes, I read every single one of them. Obviously, trying to find balance  is something that many homeschool moms struggle with and it was actually encouraging to me to see some of the familiar names that recommended this book – moms that I thought definitely already had it all together.

 I’m very hesitant on sharing too much of this book with you. Personally, I have an abundance of books that supposed to help me organize my time, be a better parent, homeschool more effectively, blah, blah, blah. If I were reading this review I might think that I already own enough books that cover these topics and would pass over this gem. Let me assure you – this is the only book I have found that covers all of these topics:

  • Challenging me to dream bigger
  • Managing your time
  • Gives you effective tools to stay on task
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Step-by-step planning 
  • How to limit all of those interruptions
  • Adjusting your attitude (gulp)
  • How to avoid a burnout
  • Training your children
  • Making family memories
  • Running your household
  • All about homeschooling
  • Making single parenthood work (I am not a single parent but my husband works away 90% of the time so sometimes I feel like it; this offered tips I could use and also ways to help true single parents.)
  • All about running a home business
  • Flourishing while finding balance doing it all and how to assess your life and make necessary adjustments

Yes, all of that is covered in one book. I probably have a shelf full of books to cover all of those topics and I still can’t flourish! But Mary Jo has given me hope and I think it is definitely within my grasp now. Every mom can benefit from this book, especially if you homeschool. And/or a WAHM. And/or a single parent. Regardless, there is truly something for everyone here.

 Flourish Book Review

I devoured this book. I’m reading it through for the second time now. The first time through, I started doing the exercises at the end of each chapter. (There are forms to fill out that you can copy from the back of the book, or download from the link given.) When I got to the chapter about managing your time, it asks you to maintain a time log for a week. I know this will be a real eye opener on where I waste time but I skipped doing that for just now. It is supposed to be done on a “typical” week and let’s face it – this past month with moving, going out of town, last minute trip and camps, etc, etc…..this is my summer month that thankfully only happens once a year! I actually have blocked out a week in August that says “Have a typical week and make a time log.” Yeah, I had to schedule it.

I really don’t want to give any spoilers but I will share some of the big “a-ha” moments that I had and things I liked best about this book:

  • Mary Jo Tate is real. Her life is not perfect. She’s not perfect. Her kids get sick and leave socks on the floor. For me, this is a biggie. Just like I don’t want a mom of an infant telling me how to raise teens, I don’t want a mom that doesn’t deal with the same things I deal with telling me how to run my life. 
  • She offers real doable advice. And gives you step-by-step directions to help you.
  • I love the recommendations she gives. I was already using some of them and I’ve read a few of the books she recommends too, now I want to read the others.
  • She gave me permission to outsource. I am one of those control freaks that would rather do everything myself to save money and to make sure it’s done right. I felt a burden lift when I realized that outsourcing can be a good thing and when she spoke in terms of money (such as you can make more money doing your work for two hours than how much you would save searching yard sales for a bargain), she was speaking my language.
  • REAL advice on working from home. Business ideas. How to do it. Marketing. My head is spinning!
  • And this is probably just my thing, but I prefer books that have all of these wonderful little snippets of wisdom in the margins!!


In conclusion, this book is worth every penny (retail price $15)!!! I even had my friend read it aloud to me on our way home from a road trip. That was a great experience since she was my first homeschool mentor and she loved it. Don’t just take my word for it, several of my fellow TOS Review Crew members enjoyed this book too and you can read their reviews. Warning: you might find some spoilers :)

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Jul 192014

It is Saturday night. I just got home from driving a little over ten hours. I have a lot of pics to share. 

But it won’t happen just yet.

I am tired. 

But I want to wrap up my week for you:

  • Drove to NC. Ended  up all of the kids got to go. Plus one. Well, two more – my son-in-law and my oldest daughter’s friend.
  • Introduced friend to the best BBQ ever – Lexington style.
  • Played with cousins. Even more cousins came to visit from Virginia.
  • Went thrift store shopping.
  • Visited the best used bookstore ever.
  • Had to have some hot and ready Krispy Kreme. (Did you know the first original store was in Winston-Salem? The building was torn down and rebuilt but basically at same location. You can watch the whole process through the glass window.
  • Toured a dairy farm creamery!!
  • Kids played at a trampoline place (Airbound?)
  • Had a friend ride back with me. It was wonderful – she read aloud while I drove.

I’m sure I’ve missed something. And it didn’t quite happen in that order. But it was a fun and busy week. What did not happen….my schoolwork (that means it all has to be done this weekend), did not quite finish my book, left my Nook charger at my mom’s house which has book my son is reading on it, did not get to see some of my other friends. But it’s all good. Had fun. And now lots of work to do at home.

Jul 092014
Summer in Full Swing

  It’s mid-July and that means summer is in full swing. How’s your summer? Everything that I wanted to get done, is not getting done but some other things are. Oh well. We’ve had thunderstorms daily for weeks now. I have learned to get up early and do whatever I need to get done before noon because after that, I’m going to stay inside unless I want to get soaked. [...]

Jul 012014
J is for July - Fun and Wacky Holidays (ABC Blogging)

Today is July 1st. I can’t believe it’s already July and summer is in full swing. Half of my kids have already done their summer camp but we haven’t even started our summer learning that I had planned (Florida state history) or even enrolled Jeremiah in more swimming classes yet. Yikes! Where has the time gone already? When we think of July, immediately we think of the 4th of July [...]

Jun 262014
Exciting Go Science DVDs by Library and Educational Services {A Review}

There is one thing that all of my kids and I agree on – when it comes to learning science, we would much rather do, or watch, experiments than just read about them. Needless to say, when Library and Educational Services offered the opportunity to review their new Go Science DVDs (Series 2), there was no hesitation to accept beg. For this review, we received Go Science Vol 2 Life [...]

Jun 232014
I is for Inadequate (Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge)

Although I started this Blogging Through the Alphabet series with every intention of making every post centered around homeschooling, my heart is taking a different direction lately. Not that every post will not be about homeschooling. Most will be. But I feel this has been on my heart lately and I just wanted to share. Maybe it will help someone else. But more than likely it will encourage me when [...]

Jun 202014
H is for Homemaking - 1924 style

We live in central Florida. I think it’s known for two things – tourists and retirees. Oh, and horses. One of the benefits is my oldest daughter has had some really great opportunities to get to know some elderly people with really interesting stories. And they like to give her stuff. Lots of stuff. Some things are valuable (like a Dyson!!) and some things are invaluable. I have no idea [...]

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