July 23, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #149 ~ July 23rd

I am always eager to see the questions that Patrice has for us each week on Everyday Ruralty...here are my answers for week #149!

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1. Other than those who live in your home, who's the last person who came to your front door?
That is easy. My piano student. Those are the main non-family members who grace my doorstep!

2. Do you have many photos around your home?
No. I have many printed out but I am HORRIBLE about actually getting them framed and up on the wall. Like I have photos from when my boys were 2 years younger that need to go up. They've been printed off for QUITE awhile...but sadly not in a frame yet. (note to self: buy frames for those pictures)

3. Do you like mint? Is there a favorite type of mint for you? How do you enjoy it?
I do like mint. I actually think I prefer spearmint. I have really learned this since using my essential oils. I love the many things that peppermint oil is used for health-wise...but I greatly prefer the smell of spearmint in my diffuser. It's like a happy smell. Spearmint and Lime is one of my favorite combos for my diffuser. I also prefer spearmint gum to peppermint gum. Same thing for tea...though lately I've enjoyed mixing the two loose herbs together. Yum!

4. Do you enjoy your own parties and other times with guests, or are you so busy working...?
I do love parties and guests! But living on the farm we don't do it very often. I had a delightful big BBQ planned for a bunch of my fellow homeschooling friends here, but then my grandpa died and I had to fly back to his memorial the week right before the BBQ was going to be. Big bummer. But everyone promised to "Save the Date" for a fall BBQ in a couple months. Looking forward to that. I love being hospitable!

5. What do you want to be when you grow up more? Job, hobby, self improvement, etc.
Better at the many "jobs" I already do. Predominately I want to be less "fly by the seat of my pants" and more organized and goal driven. This is something that was brought to my attention in my soul searching while reading the latest book I reviewed Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms. (You can read my review on the book if you haven't already)

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I am excited to announce that on Sunday I will be kicking off a Flourish giveaway! I am giving away two copies of the book because I just have enjoyed it and love it so much--I want these books to help two MORE moms!

Make sure you subscribe via email (see upper left sidebar) to stay up to date on the giveaway--or you can *like* Farm Fresh Adventures on Facebook to stay in the know!
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July 22, 2014

Fresh from the Bookshelf ~ Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms (Book Review)

Flourish. What does this word mean? When I think of a garden flourishing, I envision a garden that is lush and green with fruits and blossoms everywhere. When I think of a person flourishing, I think of someone who has a handle on their life, knowing what they want to do and are doing it with zeal and passion. Does this describe you? Do you flourish? If you are a homeschooler and/or stay-at-home mom like me, you might laugh at this idea as being something ridiculous. Who has time to flourish? I'm just trying to survive! Right? It is for this very reason that I am excited to share a book review with you today of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries.

About the Book


Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is a non-fiction book written by Mary Jo Tate (a homeschooler of 4 boys, published author, international editor and book coach) and published by Apologia Educational Ministries. Flourish is a book for moms. Especially moms who are trying to be homeschool teachers. Even more so, for moms who are trying to be homeschool teachers as well as working from home. Flourish addresses the issues that a lot of moms face--from time management to setting goals, to dealing with interruptions to managing your household to starting a home business or working from home...and much more! Each chapter tackles something that a mom might face and then analyzes it in detail.

Chapter Titles:
1. An Invitation to Flourish
2. Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
3. The FREEDOM Toolbox
4. Where Did My Time Go?
5. Aim High: Setting Goals
6. What Do I Do Next?: Seven Essential Planning Tools
7. We Interrupt This Program
8. It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment
9. Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
10. Training Your Children
11. Making Memories
12. Managing Your Home
13. All of Life is Learning
14. Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
15. Home Business
16. Moving Ahead


Within each chapter, the author analyzes aspects of life as a mom under the umbrella topic. Flourish is rich with quotes--quotes from moms, quotes from famous people and authors as well as quotes from the Bible. At the end of each chapter is a section called "Take Action!" which includes questions for you to ask yourself relating to what you just read. Sometimes they are open ended and sometimes they just ask you to think. At the end of the book, you will find an Appendix A and Appendix B. Appendix A includes valuable resources for taking what you have learned further--mostly lists of books and websites. Appendix B contains all the of the worksheets and forms that the author mentions throughout her book--or that she asks you to fill out as part of the Take Action! portion.

Each of these forms will be available as customizable versions for anyone who purchases the book. Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is available from Apologia for just $15. There are samples of the Table of Contents and book for you to check out too.

My Thoughts On Flourish


Let me honest with you. Though I agreed to read this book, I really didn't think it was going to be "my style". I avoid "self-help" books. I just don't like them. I admit this just might be because I think I don't need them--which is probably a cry for help in itself. LOL! I put off reading this book for about week before I opened it. I got myself ready for it by printing off all the included forms before reading to have them ready. I looked at them and just got more skeptical. Time log? Goals? Lists? 

(groan)

But I decided to keep an open mind(ish) attitude and just embrace the book and see what happens. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that unlike some books in this genre, the author wrote Flourish in more of a dialogue style. I felt like I was just reading a blog post that she was sharing with me. Would you believe that I was already changing my mind about the book by page 1? What did it? Oh I think it was the list of challenges she gave that moms face in their lives. I read them and started checking them off in my mind. Hmmm. Perhaps this book could be useful. By page 4, I was highlighting sentences and quotes. And I was hooked.

The first Take Action! is a Pre-Book Self Evaluation which then guides you and obtain the most out of the book that you can get. And it also gives you something to use to measure your progress. I was flying on a plane while reading this book and didn't have my printed forms...but it was easy to just copy my answers down into a notebook because there are copies of each form in the back of the book to reference.

As I continued each chapter of the book I made myself "keep it real" and discovered that there were many times it felt like the author had been peering in my windows and observing me. I even got...uncomfortable at some of the analysis and critique. Why? Because it was like she was laying out my character faults right on paper. Debunking all my excuses for why I do things the way I do and why I "can't" change.

An example of this was in completing the time log for a week. This was part of the chapter Where Did My Time Go? (chapter 4). The author urged me to fill out a time log for the week in 30 minute intervals. To note everything that I did within those minutes-whether folding laundry, fixing dinner, taking a shower or use Facebook.

This really gave me an honest peek at how much time I waste that could be used for something more valuable that I always claim "I don't have time for." I am going to be using this form several times over the coming months to see if I show any improvement and to keep myself accountable--there were some SERIOUS time wasters on there.

One of the chapters I thought would be "useless" was the one on goals. I never considered myself a real goal setter--so I sure didn't need to read a whole chapter on something I didn't do...right? Ha! I really learned how the process of setting daily/weekly/monthly/yearly goals can be valuable to a homeschooling mom--even outside of the school. The more I started thinking about it and the more in depth I wrote for the Take Action! the more excited I became. I do have goals for a LOT of things--and I WANT to achieve them! (That's going to be a whole other blog post!)

There was one chapter that I had to take a deep breath for before reading it--especially once I realized how much I needed this book. I knew that it was going to be the chapter of serious soul searching...Managing Your Home (Chapter 12). I am not the worlds best housekeeper. I love a clean house. I LOVE organization. But I HATE the process. Dust bunnies are our family pet. Dirt is a color I have grown use to--I mean I do live in a farm and have boys. Dirty dishes are a permanent decoration on my kitchen counter. Get the point? LOL! Anyways, I was leery but also excited about this chapter.

It didn't let me down, but it was this portion that REALLY was the "Aha!" moment.
Let me tell you. I drew great comfort from reading this section and plan on re-reading it again and again. The Take Action! portion was also very helpful.

There were two chapters that were geared specifically to single moms and working moms. Though neither of these pertained to me, I read them because I do have friends who fit both these categories. I found them still very useful--especially the list on page 219-22 titled What Single Moms Need. It shared things I never even considered and things I can remember.

Would I Recommend Flourish?

I would absolutely recommend Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms. As I was reading it, I kept thinking of friends who "totally need to read this". Some of them aren't even homeschoolers! That's the beauty of this book; though primarily geared towards homeschool moms, I really think that you can find value in this book whether homeschooling or not. It's just a book for MOMS! There is something in there for every mom dealing with the burden of all the hats she wears. I think the author, Mary Jo Tate, touches moms because her own experience as a single, working, and homeschooling mom gives her credibility. She KNOWS what she's saying because she's lived it--and continues to live it. The way she shares HER struggles really helps tap into the heart of what the book is about.

The quotes alone are worth it...they are so inspirational and encouraging. This one by Sally Clarkson was one of my favorites in the book.

I have found the included forms (available in the Appendix B and as a download with purchase of book) to be very valuable--even though I dreaded the idea of using them at first. I am absolutely going to be keeping this book for reference and encouragement, and to loan out to friends. My next step is to complete the Post-Book Progress Check to see how things have changed in my thinking since completing the book. There is so much that I want to delve back into further--I see myself writing several blog posts about these subjects and my experiences with them as I endeavor to FLOURISH in my own life!

Want To Know More?

You can get your own copy of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate from Apologia Educational Ministries for just $15! Included with your purchase will be the downloadable forms that are mentioned in Appendix B of the book.

Did you know there is a Flourish Facebook Group? You can also follow the author Mary Jo Tate on Twitter!

You've only read my experience with this phenomenal book...how about you check out what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it! Rumor has it this book touched many of us in ways beyond expectation!

Click to read Crew Reviews
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I can't wait to really share some more posts about how this book has changed the way that I plan on doing things in this upcoming year--in this upcoming month--in this upcoming week. It will be exciting but downright scary to share my journey to Flourish...but I think that blogging about it will be my accountability. I hope you will continue to check back in with me to see how I'm doing!

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July 16, 2014

Fresh From the Bookshelf: A Match of Wits by Jen Turano (Book Review)

Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano, book #3 in a series (Ladies of Distinction) that I fell in love with right after reading book #1 (A Change of Fortune). Needless to say I've been on pins and needles for the 4th book in the series to come out and was delighted to be offered a copy of A Match of Wits to review! 



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Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

Each book in the Ladies of Distinction series by Jen Turano revolves around a set of friends in high society New York in the late 1800's. Book four finally gives the much awaited story of Agatha--a quirky, constantly in trouble, impetuous, adventures, gifted journalist, and kindhearted young lady. From near the beginning of the series, we the readers were privy of the fact that Agatha was in love with Zayne...brother of her dear friend Arabella (her story is in book #2). This book FINALLY tells Agatha and Zayne's story!