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What I’m Reading (and the Kids too)

December is here. Chilly temps have really settled in, and books are becoming my most favorite thing – especially by the light of the Christmas tree. Admittedly, those non-fiction books are a little harder to pick up and dig into (it’s much easier to get lost in another world where I don’t have to focus on anything), but I am making progress.

The one thing I really need to focus on this month is decidedly making time to read for my growth – not just for fun. The last few weeks have been crazy with family visiting and traveling, so focusing on a more serious topic has been harder to do. Hence – the fiction. :) I will also admit that the last little bit I have been sidetracked by the Hallmark channel (we subscribed to Sling TV for the month so we could get all the holiday movies!!), and that may have put a damper on my reading.

My GoodReads app is helping me track the books that I’m reading. Only two books on my original reading list for 2017 remain, and one of them is already halfway finished. I’m definitely looking forward to our Christmas break and hoping to finish both of them prior to that so I can just relax and read all the FUN books that are still on my shelf.

To help me toward my goal of finishing those two books, I’m setting an alarm for every afternoon at 2pm so I can sit down and read for at least 15 minutes.  Here are the books on my pile to read this month: 

The Kids are Reading…

  • Laurianna – lots of assigned reading for her college classes
  • McKenna – Heart of Darkness
  • Zachary – Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
  • Kaleb – Boxcar Children book #3
  • Family read-aloud – Gregor the Overlander series

What I Finished in November

Here’s a peek at what I finished in the month of November – just fiction and working through some non-fiction too. 


  • Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason
  • Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!
  • five books in the Jacobite chronicles by Julia Brannon (there were some parts I had to skip). Otherwise a good series, but the parts I skipped seemed like they were token “add in” scenes that honestly could have been modified or left out completely. 

That’s it for this month – what is on YOUR reading list??

Happy Thanksgiving!

happy-thanksgiving-from-our-family-to-yoursThe next few days are promising to be full of food and family (and fun). Lots of cooking will be happening in the house (I’ve already made some amazing cranberry orange scones and that’s just the tip of the baking).

We’re taking a few days off to celebrate Thanksgiving with lots of family and also Kaleb’s birthday, which is Friday. The boy has already asked for a special pumpkin pie ice cream cake. 

Friday I’ll be sharing some Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials and am planning to finish up the remainder of my shopping from a nice cozy bed if possible. After that, it’s on to decorating for Christmas and curling up to watch sappy Christmas movies. 

For those of you in the States – have a GREAT Thanksgiving! If you aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving, hope you and your family enjoy the next bit and we will talk to you soon. :) 

Homeschool and Life Happenings – The One with ALL THE EMOTIONS

When I say the week was full of emotions, it was a literal roller coaster in so many ways. We started off the week meeting with an advisor from the local community college to register Laurianna for two classes this fall. 


I’m happy. I’m scared. I’m not sure what to feel. (Granted the tuition and book bill may snap me back to reality rather quickly). MY BABY is taking college classes. Lord, please help me! 

Laurianna is registered for a human anatomy class and lab (this will fulfill her remaining science credit for high school) and also an English class. The first shock came in seeing the RIDICULOUS amount bookstores charge for textbooks. Good grief! Fortunately Amazon offered the book brand spankin’ new at about 25% of the cost the bookstore did. We could have rented the book as well for $20, but decided to get her the text to keep since it’s one she will likely refer to quite a bit with a nursing major. 

So classes are registered for, we still have a tuition bill to pay (and are hoping we can dip into the state college savings plan we’ve had going on for her). She is a junior in high school this year and we are trying to get her into classes that will go along with classes she needs for her major at the colleges she will apply to. 

But can we return to the textbook rental for a moment?? Why did no one have this when we were in college?? Crazy to think that a book they wanted $340 at the bookstore can be rented for $20. YOU CAN RENT TEXTBOOKS FROM AMAZON. If it wasn’t my favorite place to shop before, it has now officially become my #1 love. 

That also meant we dipped into our budget a little more and bought Laurianna a smaller laptop (this one had GREAT reviews) along with all of her remaining texts. I’ll be sharing a post next week with her class schedule and our plans for the rest of the year. 

The kids and I may have taken advantage of the free ice cream our orthodontist offered all week. Every summer she has a local ice cream company set up their trailer in her parking lot and all patients can stop by for free ice cream. So we did. For breakfast one morning, a pre-lunch snack a second day, and a mid-afternoon snack on yet another. With two kids braces paid for and one on the way, I am determined our kids can enjoy it whenever.  I may have obtained mom of the day status the morning we had it for breakfast. I justify it by the fact that I had a mix of Java Chip (morning coffee), coconut nut (fruit and nuts are always good for you, right), and then a side of waffle cone “toast”. It works. No judging. :) 

I’ve also been busy printing our Student Planners for the upcoming year and took them to Staples for binding. This year we also have several other e-workbooks that need to be printed for the kids (Visual Latin, WriteShop, etc…), so I am trying out a website a friend referred (thanks, Mo!) – The Homeschool Printing Company (if you send them an email with a request for a quote and mention I referred you, you’ll get 10% off your first order!! Woot! And their prices are AMAZING!).

I still need to finish printing my new Homeschool Planner. I promise I will be sharing it soon, but there have been some major issues with my website that I am trying to get fixed (thanks to those of you that are emailing and letting me know what files are being impacted!). (p.s. hang tight – there may be a special offer coming soon where you can get it free!!) 

Last Saturday we officially ended our summer swim season with a day of swimming against the other five teams in our league. All the kids did amazing. Kaleb ended up placing first in all of his individual events, and the other kiddos all placed in the top of their events as well (woohoo!). A great end to the season and much fun!

We ended the week with Laurianna starting the final leg of her drivers ed with behind the wheel training. Seven hours from now she will be an official licensed driver! We also had a visit with yet another specialist on Thursday, and a girl that really was having a super rough day. There’s a point as a mom when you want to just have a good cry, but can’t do it around your child because you don’t want to discourage her any further. The sum-up of it: essentially no official diagnosis from the geneticist, another referral to the pediatric neurologist, and some intensive PT. And we wait still again. 

Our classroom as a whole is coming together (finally). The last of our missing curriculum has been ordered and downloaded (thank goodness Compass Classroom has a lovely sale happening to help me out!). Tomorrow I’m pulling together all of the books and making sure everything is in the classroom, will finish printing my planner, and start the planning. Start date goal is August 14th! 

I’ll end this with a song that I’ve been listening to on repeat this week (along with King of My Heart). It’s just something I’ve needed in my heart so very, very much, especially in light of all the stuff happening with Laurianna. While I can’t put this all into in-depth and flowery terms, the basic is this: it’s been tough, but NONE of this is taking God by surprise. Even when it’s hard and we don’t understand we will keep pressing into Him – not away. One thing I know for sure is that He loves my girl so deeply and will never fail her – or us. 

Homeschool Life and Happenings – I’m Not Ready for School

This week a lot of things are starting to wrap up and time is beginning to open up a bit. That’s a great thing, but on the other hand, it made me realize how close we are to the end of our summer and OH MY GOODNESS – a new school year. 


Midweek I shared a video peek at the current state of my homeschool planning and our homeschool room. In short, other than having the bulk of our curriculum ordered, I have a bit fat zero done on my end. Next week will involve a lot of printing, sorting, and nitty-gritty to make sure we have all we need to get started mid-August. If you’re interested, you can hop over to Facebook for a look at my rambling and maybe a cute dog who is a little nutso. 

Sidenote – I’m feeling a wee bit overwhelmed in my planning (or lack thereof) and the state of our schoolroom. The fact that we had a paper wasp infestation in the ceiling of the schoolroom hasn’t helped. There are dead wasps everywhere. 

The BIG news of our week: Laurianna took placement tests for our local community college so she can take a few classes this year. I’ll be sharing our plans for her in the next week or two, but this was a big deal for both of us. Honestly, I was scared to death.

First – she’s my baby!! How we are at the point of her taking college classes is beyond me. Second – these tests count! While I know she “knows” the stuff, there is a part of me that was nervous about how she would test and how the test would reflect her knowledge. I’m sure you all understand that. She passed both the math and English tests with flying colors (YAY!!) and we meet with a placement advisor in about a week to line up her classes for the fall. 

Life related – our Bichon mix dog, Addie, got her first haircut from me this week. I love our groomer, but I have a) a hard time paying more for a dog’s haircut than I do for my own and b) driving close to 1/2 hour away to have her groomed. I decided it couldn’t be too bad to cut her hair myself (incidentally, I cut our kids’ hair and if I can do that, who honestly cares if my dog’s hair is perfect??).

YouTube had a video (or three) that made me feel comfortable enough, so we ordered a grooming kit off Amazon and got to work. I still have to tweak a few things, but she is definitely much happier with less hair. It’s great having a hypoallergenic dog, but haircuts are a wee bit of a pain. I suppose that’s the tradeoff in not having to sweep/vacuum her hair off everything, right? 

In random news, it’s signs like the above (and my children noticing the glaring punctuation errors) that make my day. Be sure to try the ONE NEW STRAWBERRY. By the way, they have mango salad too. Don’t get the old strawberries though….

After one late night, I went to wake up the boys for morning practice and had to take a picture. They both were so cute and sleeping in exactly the same position. Our kids don’t normally sleep in, but summer night swim practices and late meets sometimes help them stay in bed past the 7am hour. :) 

With our swim season wrapping up, the week has held some reflection for me on the past 6-8 weeks. Our kids have had a blast with their friends – and making new friends – and that has been so much fun to see. This last meet I had a chance to finally be poolside and really watch all of our kids swim – and about cheered myself voiceless as they bettered their times. It was a GREAT meet. :)

Rick and I also celebrated our 19th anniversary this past week as well. We haven’t done anything exciting like going out to dinner (we may have been standing in monsoon rain and hail and stayed up late helping reschedule a swim meet – ah, wedded bliss!). We figured we’ve made it 19 years and the actual date we celebrate together doesn’t matter as much, right? 

That’s it in a nutshell for us – how was YOUR week? 

The Crazy Orchid Plant and Parenting Insight

Sometimes there are things right under our noses that can speak to our hearts. Take this crazy orchid plant as an example. It sits on my bathroom counter and each morning is something I see as I get ready for the day. 

I have N.E.V.E.R. been able to keep an orchid alive. Ever. It has been a bit of a frustration to me, because despite following all of the “rules” they end up deader than dead. 

My last birthday, as in 2016, I received not one, but TWO orchids for my birthday. It was a wee bit of irony and hilarious all rolled into one. The joke was I would kill them for certain.

The blossoms that were on the plant when I received them fell off. Part of me wanted to pitch the plants and be done with it. This time though, I ignored all the rules and cared for them my own way. I added in new stakes for each of the stems to help protect and strengthen them.

After months and months of nothing (literally 11 months), a few little buds began to push their way through on one of the plants. New growth was coming. 

I haven’t always done everything perfectly as a parent. Let’s put that in the 90% range of imperfection. I make mistakes. A lot. 

But it’s the daily tending that produces results. There’s not a one time fix. As much as I sometimes wish there were, it takes a whole heap of patience and grace on my part. And more patience.  

Sometimes an approach needs to change and different support needs to be given. Each of our kids is different and needs different help and care – different stages require various approaches as well

It may not be on my timetable either, but changes are happening, things are being absorbed, and little by little we see the fruits of our time.

There is probably definitely a lot more I can unpack from this crazy plant, but every morning this one orchid is a reminder to me of patience and perseverance in the parenting journey. 

And that’s something I definitely need a daily reminder for. 

July 2017 Personal Planning Pages – Free Printable

July personal planner pages from Homeschool Creations 

How oh how can it already be ready for July?? This summer is flying by far too fast for me already – and I want it to slow down!! 

June has been crazy busy for our family with swim team moving along at full speed. Helping out at the annual volunteer camp for our teens also made the month fly by. Honestly it feels as though I spend the bulk of the time shuttling kids between one activity to the next and as well as work and doctor’s visits. Having two of our kids gone one week and then one gone another week – it definitely makes the time fly by!

July means more swim team (lots more!), the wedding of a family friend, and a week of VBS, so I have a feeling that month will go by quickly as well. 

Top of the agenda for the month: blocking out time to sit down and P-L-A-N for the upcoming school year! Laurianna will likely be taking classes at a local community college and needs to take entrance tests in the next few weeks so she can enroll in those classes. Like I said – more shuttling and busy! 

Needless to say, my planner is being put to good use. 

If you’d like to get organized along with me, you can download the July 2017 Personal Planner Pages and try them out this month. I truly hope they are a help to you in the upcoming days.  

A Peek Inside My Planner

If you’d like to take a look at how I’ve set up my yearly planner, I’ve explained it more in this post here, as well as given links to my favorite binder and colorful tabs (because pretty makes life fun too, right?).

Yearly Planner example from Homeschool Creations-5

This year I’ve done a little something different and pulled my planner out of the binder and had it spiral bound at Staples. It has worked wonderfully and I love it this way!!

July 2017 Personal Planner Pages

You can download the July 2017 Personal Planner Pages by clicking the green download button below. There are 12 pages included as a part of the download: the month at a glance and then weekly planning pages as well, with a page that finishes up the month of April and another that goes a bit into August as well. Each month I’ll be offering a free download for that month’s planning pages, so you can check back and download them as they become available.

Download button


Purchase the Yearly Planner

Otherwise, if you like the layout and want to start planning out the rest of your year now (and 2018 as well), purchase the full Yearly Planner for $4.99. The calendar includes month-at-a-glance pages and dated weekly pages through December 2018. There is also a link to bonus pages and additional covers for the planner. 

Don’t miss my student planner and weekly homeschool planner – available as well!

Don’t Miss The Daily To-Do List

Daily to do list free printable

My Daily To-Do List is pretty basic, but hopefully it will work for you too. There is an area to make a list of things to accomplish, household goals, appointment, meals for the day, and even a space to record exercise and water intake. Each page in the document is identical so you can print them off, cut the page in half, and have two lists. If you print them front to back, you’ll have four to-do lists and save a little paper.

Hope you all have a wonderful month!! I’d love to hear your plans!