Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms (A Review)

Flourish Book Review

Apologia Educational Ministries sent me something I desperately needed. I didn’t know how bad I needed it until I began reading. Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate really spoke to me. There were so many take-aways, applications, and words of encouragement that I have truly been blessed. In fact, I’ll be taking my time going back through at a slower pace, highlighting things that jump out, and applying so much to my day to day. This book is for you, mama, whether you are new to the homeschooling journey or an old experienced veteran like me.

Flourish Book Review

This approximately 288 page book moves along at a decent pace, but there is so much information packed in, that really, you should take your time with it. Plus, each chapter ends with a Take Action! section that helps you apply what you’ve learned in that particular chapter. So you will want to read it with a pen and journal or notebook in hand. Not only that, but Mary has included planning forms in the back of the book or for download on her website to help you implement various things like a yearly review and goal setting. She even includes a list of resources that have helped her on her journey as a woman, mom, home educator, and home business owner. I actually own some of these, and I’m adding others to my ‘want to read’ list.

Sprinkled through the entire book are some awesome quotes. Some of them hit me right in the spirit, brain or heart, and I had to look at the footnotes section, and guess what? There are even more books to add to my ‘need to read’ list! Did I mention this is a treasure trove? Are you getting the impression I just might like this book a teeny weeny bit?

My running to do list is color coordinated with my goal categories.

So what did I learn? Hehe. That is a loaded question. The book starts with an introduction and then dives into your mindset about life. Do you fancy yourself as a juggler? I know I have, and cough, not the best one either. Mary shares a wonderful analogy that I immediately embraced for myself. Rather than a juggler, think of yourself as a tightrope walker. I actually have been pondering this, and feel a whole blog post coming with ideas this sparked. As for her analogy, basically picture yourself balancing, and with the wobbles, you pause to re-balance yourself. I could go on, but I’ll let this go for now for the sake of the review.

She also gets into your behavior and your attitude. Need adjustments that are not the chiropractic kind? Well, she’ll give you some. You’ll find the nitty gritty such as time management, goal setting, and planning tools. She covers homemaking, homeschooling, and running a home business. She shares advice on taking care of yourself spiritually and physically, training your children, starting family traditions, and making memories. Plus, she gives wisdom on handling interruptions and encouragement for single moms. Phew. I told you there are a lot of gems packed into this book.

I’m changing the word tasks to goals so next month it will be August Goals. I’m also adding a Weekly Goals section, and moving my daily tasks to my planner. This is my bullet journal which I love. And really should share with you all in a post soon.

How Did I Use This

So how did I use this? I read it. I jotted thoughts in a journal. I answered the Take Action! assignments. I implemented her ideas. I’m going back through to highlight and add notes. I already use a calendar, have written goals for this year, but sadly haven’t looked at them much the first half of the year, and have been hit or miss on several things. So I’m brushing the cobwebs off, rebooting some things, and taking up my tightrope pole with determination.

I’ve got some tools that I’m using more effectively now, and I’ve printed out my goals, my 43 while 43 list, and my Big Dreams worksheet. These are in a binder so I can actually review them. And, thanks to Mary, I’ve scheduled time to do just that. I’ll be reviewing my weekly goals each night to plan tasks for the next day, reviewing monthly goals and my running to do and to stop lists weekly to help plan those weekly goals, and I’m reviewing my yearly goals and 43 while 43 list monthly to help plan those monthly goals. And then at the end of the year, I will review the year and prepare for the next one. This last one is something I love doing every year, but the other review sessions will help me actually keep them fresh in mind and help me reach them better.

I’m getting organized ya’ll. Organized both inside and out. Sometimes we need to take stock and see what is working and what’s not. We need to know what to keep and what to drop. Ironically, she chats about these things in her book, too. Did I tell you there is a lot of meat here? You can sink your teeth into this thing, and come away satisfied for sure!

This planner has a calendar, but I use it for holidays and school goals, and not as my main calendar. I love using this for my daily tasks and random notes.

What Did I Think

Snort. Well, in case you missed it, I LOVE THIS BOOK! Usually, I try to save my feelings about it until this section of the review, but I just could not help myself this time. I needed a refreshing. I needed new inspiration in so many areas. I needed to flourish. Like how I did that? Snuck that right in there.

This book gave me the lift I needed. I’m ready to jump back in and practice life management. I want to do and be what God has called me to do and be. Tools help. Women who have been there help. And God helps. Amen? So, yes, I officially recommend this book especially if your current days are feeling a bit stale or chaotic.

For those who have an editor’s brain, there are minor editing issues, such as missed word here or there, but these did nothing to detract from the book, and I barely noticed them. I bet that long sentence is driving you nuts, too. And did you catch my missed word? I caught it on my editing run through, but had to leave it because of the irony! Smile.

Yes, I had a little fun with this one.

Pricing and Other Information
Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is available from Apologia Educational Ministries for $15.00. You’ll find a downloadable sample chapter and table of contents on the book’s page.

You can also find Flourish and Mary Jo on Facebook and Twitter.

Flourish Book Review

Click to read Crew Reviews

*Pricing and information is accurate to the best of my knowledge at time of posting.

Crew Disclaimer

Make A Birthday Bucket List

birthday bucket list

When I faced my 40th birthday, dread is the only word to describe my feelings. It seems silly now, but I really struggled with turning 40. It felt like some magical number that would catapult me into Old Age. (Cue ominous loud voice.)

So I decided to face it with a birthday bucket list: 40 things I’d try to do while I was 40. Armed with this list, I was suddenly eager for my birthday to arrive. I wanted to get started on the 40 things.

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Of course, my birthday did arrive, and I felt absolutely no different than the days leading up to it. It’s funny how we get hung up on things like getting older. The passing of the years are inevitable, but each year holds lots of potential.

I’ve already started tackling my 43 Things While 43 list, and I’ve decided this is too much fun not to share. I’m going to encourage my kids to make their own lists for their birthdays. And you should totally try it, too. Seriously, it’s such a fun idea.


Things to remember
Now, these aren’t goals. Those are a whole other thing. This list should be random fun things you’ve been meaning to do-someday. Make sure you have mostly achievable items, but include a couple of dream big items. You can take a look at both of my lists for ideas.

Your turn
If you’ve had a birthday not too long ago, go for it now. If you have one coming up, get one ready. If you’re smack in the middle of your “year”, but this sounds like something you’d love to do, make the list anyway, and see how much you can get done. I’d love to see your birthday bucket lists, so feel free to comment with a link to yours or share some ideas below.

birthday bucket list

I missed doing a birthday bucket list when I was 41, and I never finished writing the one for 42. It only had a handful of things listed, but I still managed to knock off a couple without even trying-like buy a pair of cowgirl boots. Love them! I’m looking forward to seeing what I finish this next year.

Simplified Pantry: Paperless Home Organization (Review)

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What a fun review from Simplified Pantry! We received three eBooks, but I’m going to tell you about the one I’m the most excited about-Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winckler. This book has been a game changer for me. You see, my darling techie husband has been after me to go digital. Get with the times he says. But I LOVE paper I say. One look around here will show my overflowing love for paper. Sigh.

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I’ll be honest. I truly wrestled with myself on this one. I loved the idea Mystie presented, but give up my beautiful paper calendar? Let go of my fun notebooks with lists and notes and whatnots? Set aside my colorful pens? Again I looked around at my paper piles and realized change was needed. Now. Before we completely drowned.

Paperless Home Organization is only 75 pages, but it outlines a wonderful system for slimming down the papers in our lives. She uses three (free) digital tools: Gmail/Google Calendar, Remember the Milk, and Evernote. All three can be used together and on different platforms such as your computer, iPhone, and iPad. And yes, it works for Android, too. They all sync between platforms, and her system intertwines the three for a full bodied digital home management system based on GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen) principles.

google calendar ipad
Google Calendar on my iPad with some calendars hiding.

You can track appointments, to do’s, shopping lists, book lists, favorite websites, library books checked out, homeschool planning…and so much more. All without adding paper. Already have a ton, like someone we both know (ahem), scan it in and toss that bad boy! No more hunting for that piece of paper you wrote important information on. It is so much easier to search with a few keyboard strokes and mouse clicks than to weed through various piles, stacks, dare I say, containers of papers for that one little scrap. Pardon me, but my paper issues are showing! Phew.

Doit.im app
Doit.im app – I preferred it over RTM.

The book leads you through step by step how to set up each tool, and gives you ideas on how to use them. It’s not difficult at all, and once you play around with it a bit, you’ll fall in love with the possibilities. I say possibilities because it might take you a while to actually input everything into the system. This is okay. You can get it set up, and get started in a short amount of time. The rest of your paper stacks can slowly be added into the system as time and need permit.

evernote app
Evernote app – I’m still trying to decide between this and OneNote.

My Thoughts:

I love this system! I won’t be completely paperless as I love to journal and brainstorm on paper, but I’m converting my home management system to digital one day/one aspect at a time. I’m already falling in love with it, and my husband is happy to see me use my iPad as a valuable tool, and not just a fun pastime.

While going through Mystie’s book, I also discovered her blog-home to her 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers. I’m slowly working my way through this series, and find it helpful as I transition from paperfull to paperless.

Quick note: not all the posts are linked on the main post, but if you click on the next post link in each post, you’ll get to all of them. And check out more of her blog while you’re there. I love it!

Pricing and More Information:

Paperless Home Organization is available in both PDF and Kindle formats for $3.99. Seriously, this price is already terrific, but Mystie is also giving you, dear readers, a TOS Review Crew exclusive discount! Enter the code, TOS2013, and receive 30% off any or all of Mystie’s eBooks from now until June 3rd. Snag this deal!

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Simplify Dinner is available for $12.99.

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Simple Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Meals is also available for $12.99.

This review is already long, so check out the other reviews covering these other two books. We tried some of the recipes from the GFDF one, and enjoyed them.



*Pricing and information is accurate to the best of my knowledge at time of posting.

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