Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate – A Review


Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

I received this book almost 11 months ago when I was at a conference, but it took me several months to actually start reading it. I actually wish I had started it when I received it. Once I did start to read it I really enjoyed reading it. In fact there was so much good stuff in this book, I had to go a little slower than usual through the book. Also, I did something I very rarely do to books and that is underline things that was so profound or things I liked and even things I needed to work on.

I enjoyed this book so much that I told my husband that he would actually enjoy parts of this book, especially the chapter on seven essential planning tools.

So what exactly is this book about?

Here is what it is about:

Stop enduring the journey- and start enjoying it!

Exhausted? Overloaded? Teetering on the brink of burnout? As a homeschooling mom, it’s easy to find yourself paralyzed by an overwhelming to-do list, and false guilt only adds to the burden. If you’ve just been getting by, it’s time to start flourishing! Learn how to:

  • Stop the juggling act  and find balance you can live with
  • Minimize interruptions while being sensitive to real needs
  • Take care of yourself so you can take care of your family
  • Value and protect your time to do what matters most
  • Establish a pace you can maintain for the marathon of life

Flourish includes customizable planning forms, step by step exercises, and special chapters for single moms and families who have a home business. Find peace in the space between the ideal and reality so that you and your family can enjoy the homeschool journey! – Taken from the back of the book.

Karen Says:

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to not only homeschool moms but to any mother out there. You would definitely walk away with something life changing.

I actually met the author of this book, Mary Jo Tate at a blogging conference that I attended last year. The funny thing is I didn’t put it together who she was till the second day of the conference. She is a really nice lady who I actually enjoyed talking to. I found out after the conference she actually lived in my own home state of Mississippi. To me that was strange because I very rarely meet people from my own state when we travel somewhere.

I loved how she presented the material in this book. It was presented by someone who has been there, done that and got the award. She speaks from her heart as someone who truly wants to help you succeed in this thing called motherhood.

Some of the chapters that I really enjoyed reading are:

  • Chapter 3 – The FREEDOM Toolbox
  • Chapter 5 – Aim High: Setting Goals
  • Chapter 6 – What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
  • Chapter 11 – Making Memories
  • Chapter 15 – Home Businesses

If you are looking for a good book on motherhood this is the book for you. It is written for the homeschool mom, but I think you don’t have to be a homeschool mom to get a lot out of this book.

You can get this book from Apologia.


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Frugal Friday – Shopping the clearance sales.

frugal fridayA way to save money on clothes and things that you need in the future is to look at stores clearance section. I was once again reminded of this yesterday when we went to Wal-Mart to look for a new bathing suit for 2 of our kids.

Since it is the end of the season, bathing suits are on clearance. Most of them are over half off the regular price. This is a great deal since they won’t be needing one next year if we can find one for them this year.

My sister used to shop the clearance racks for winter coats after the winter season stuff went on clearance. She would buy my niece a new winter coat in a bigger size for the next winter. She regularly found them at half price or 75% off or cheaper. Now that is a big savings.

So if you are needing something new, be sure and check the clearance racks or isle.

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The National Park Service turns 100 today.

National Park

On August 25, 1916 the National Park Service was created. There is 413 places to visit under the National Park Service. Some of these places are National Parks, monuments, historic sites, battlefields, recreation areas, parkways, and rivers. All 413 are administered under the National Park System.

The National Park System has a variety of places to visit that is sure to please just about everyone. Some of the National Parks are free and others charge a small fee. I am sure there is a National Park within a days drive of where you are located. You can check it out here.

Do you have a favorite National Park?

Our favorite National Park is the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a federally run road that goes from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. This modern road follows the general path of the original path. All along the way there are several stops where you can get out of the car and see and do things. There is a lot of Indian things as well as a ton of history. You can even see an abandoned town. For those of you who want to walk and drive on some of the original path, you can do that also.

cypress swamp

Cypress Swamp along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

We actually spent 4 days driving and seeing things along the Natchez Trace and didn’t see and do everything we wanted to. We found this to be a really inexpensive vacation as well, since almost everything on the Natchez Trace Parkway is free. We only had to pay for gas, food and lodging and of course you can save on those things if you want to.

So what is your favorite National Park?

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Changing your mindset

Our family has decided that we need to loose some weight. So we have been on a diet for about 3 weeks now. But I refuse to say that I am on a diet. You see I have been on diets before and I have always lost interest and gained it back. So this time I have a new strategy. My strategy is that I am not on a diet but on a lifestyle change. Part of this lifestyle change is eating healthy and going low carb. I am going to be adding in some exercise after a few weeks, but for now I am working on eating low carb.

This mindset seems to have worked quite well for me as I have lost some weight. It is working for the rest of the family as well. I seem to have more success at this than when I have done other diets in the past. It is all in my mindset. Before I felt like I have set myself up for failure and I always felt like I was wanting to cheat but not this time. I think it also helps that the whole family is doing this and that is good for moral support.

Here is to eating healthy and loosing weight.

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How To Enjoy a Trip To a National Park

National Parks truly are a national treasure. Our family loves to go to National Parks and we have been know to plan trips around areas that we can go see National Parks.

There is so many National Parks, that it could take years to fully explore them all.

To fully enjoy a National Park, I would suggest that you do several things to make your trip more enjoyable.

First I would go explore the National Park website. Here you will find all sorts of information about the park that you wish to go see. this is where I actually start our planning to go see a National Park.

After I go there, I will usually go to Pinterest and search for blog posts about that particular park. Blogs are a great  place to learn about a park and what there is to do there.

Then I will talk to people who have actually been to that park and ask them about it.

All three of these things are great ways to learn about National Parks. By planning your trip, you will have a much more enjoyable trip to a National Park.

How do you plan your trip to a National Park?

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Frugal Friday – Pack water and snacks in the car when doing errands.

frugal fridayWe have learned a long time ago that it is cheaper to bring water or drinks with you when you are out and about doing errands. Sometimes those errands take longer to complete or things get added to the list to do. Having something to drink with you will help you save money when you get really thirsty. Having something with you stops those impulse stops at the gas station or fast food restaurant.

This also applies to snacks. If you get hungry often or have kids this will help save money since you don’t have to stop and buy something to eat.

So next time you go out and about be sure and bring something to drink and something to snack on.

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Stone Hill Winery – Branson, MO

stone hill wineryWhile we were in Branson, MO we decided to go see the Stone Hill Winery and take a tour. Let me preface this by saying, we have never been to winery before but I had several ideas of what a winery was supposed to look like. I envisioned it being in the country surrounded by acres of grapes. But this winery is not like that. Some winery’s might be, but not this one.

So any way, we decided to go see the winery and take the tour.

Once we got there, we had to wait a few minutes for the tour to start, so we looked around the store.

Once it was time to start our tour, we got a little bit of background to the winery and got to see some of the awards their wines earned. This winery is a larger one in Missouri. Basically they only bottle 2 wines here.

We got to see a movie about the winery and the larger one in another part of the state. That was pretty interesting.

Old stills

Old stills.

Old wine barrells

Old wine barrels.

old wine barrels

Old wine barrels.

After the movie, we went on to see some of the equipment they use to make wine. Then we moved on to where they bottle 2 wines. The guy who bottles the wine wasn’t working that day so we didn’t get to see them bottling the wine.

Where they bottle the wine.

Where they bottle the wine.

After that it was time to taste some of the wines.

We did bring our entire family with us on the tour. They do let kids in and take the tour but when it comes to the wine tasting, the kids have to be away from the bar. Which we were OK with. They just sat in chairs along the wall. Before they brought out the wine they did allow the kids to try a sample of their grape juice. Our kids said it was really good.

They did card those people who looked young. Our oldest thought this was kind of fun since this was the first time he was carded.

We got to try several types of wine during the tasting. Don’t worry if you didn’t like something, they had a container you could dump your wine into. I have to admit the container stayed by me a lot of the time.

We thought the winery was interesting and it was also free, but I really didn’t like the taste of the wine. I think I might have been better off trying the grape juice. But the winery was a great experience.

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Celebrating 23 Years of Marriage

Me and my husband at Disney World.

Me and my husband at Disney World.

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated 23 years of marriage. I can honestly say, Where has the time went? because it certainly doesn’t feel like it has been that long since we got married.

As we celebrated yesterday, we looked back over our time together and I realized we have had some good times, bad times and rough times. It seems like life is just that way. You have good times, bad times and rough times. But as we looked back over our lives together we really have had a good life together. Somehow we look over the bad times and the rough times and the good times seem to stick out.

I am so glad we have had some really good times together to get us through those times that have been bad and rough.

I am so thankful I married my best friend that I can live with, laugh with and share life with. I am looking forward to many more years together. We are looking forward to our 25th wedding anniversary now. We are so exited because we are going to start planning our celebration at Disney World. We both cannot wait. Let the planning begin.

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Cooking bacon in the oven.

finished bacon

Bacon cooked in the oven.

Our family loves bacon, but I hate to cook it. It takes so long to fry on the electric griddle. Especially since we replaced our griddle and it takes even longer than it did. In my quest to cook bacon faster, I realized that you can cook bacon in the oven. The first time I tried this was just a few months ago and after trying it I said,” Where has this trick been all my life?”

We are totally sold on cooking the bacon in the oven. It is so easy to do and ooh it tastes  so good. My mouth is watering right now, I can’t wait till I have some more bacon cooked in the oven. I guess I don’t have to wait that long since we are having bacon cheese burgers for dinner tonight.

Any way, here is how to cook bacon in the oven.

What you need:

  • Bacon
  • pan
  • parchment paper is optional

 How to make bacon:

  1. Open the bacon and put it on the pan. If you are using parchment paper, put it down first, then lay the bacon out on the pan side by side. You don’t have to use parchment paper, but it does help make clean up easier. We cook bacon either way and we found it doesn’t matter if you use it or not.

    bacon on the pan

    Raw bacon on the pan.

  2. Put the pan in the oven and cook. We put the oven on 400° and then bake it until it is done. It will take about 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Cook it until it is done to your own preferences.
  3. Take it out, put it on a plate and then enjoy. Trust me it is really good.
    cooked bacon on the pan

    Cooked bacon on the pan.

    finished bacon

    Finished bacon on a plate.

    Bacon, eggs and toast.

    Bacon, eggs and toast.

There you have it, an easy way to cook bacon.

I hope you enjoy eating your bacon this way as much as we do.

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Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery – Branson, MO

Shepherd of the Hills fish hatchery

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is located in Branson, MO and is a wonderful place to visit.

At the Shepherd the Hills Fish Hatchery, you will find exhibits, holding tanks with trout in them, walking trails, and a boat launch.

fish hatchery pools

Fish hatchery pools.


The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is the largest trout rearing facility in Missouri and is located 6 miles southwest of Branson. It is also right behind Table Rock Dam and you can see the back of the dam.

the back of the dam

The back of the dam.

It was really interesting to see a fish hatchery and how it worked. We have seen several fish hatcheries, but non as nice as this one. We learned a lot just by going here and reading the signs outside and looking at the exhibits.

One thing we really enjoyed is looking at the flowers that they had labeled in the parking area.

Showy Evening Primrose

Showy Evening Primrose

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is free to tour and is very educational. A trip to Branson would not be complete without going here.

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