It’s week two for the Five Minute Friday dealio and I am still going strong! Well, not sure if I’m going strong.. I should be on an airplane headed home but our flight got canceled. If you aren’t sure what Five Minute Friday is, last Friday’s post explains it a little bit.

Today’s word prompt is: Simplify



I am having a hard time with this word prompt.

By nature, I am a pretty simple person. I don’t need much to be happy, to enjoy life, whatever.

I guess I could work on simplifying ‘stuff’. I do have a hard time with getting rid of stuff. I know the big trend right now is to just get rid of everything and be happy with hardly anything.

Memories are huge for me more than anything. I hate getting rid of something that I may want later on.. I realize that I could definitely get rid of some stuff.

A lot of that has to do with time though. Time to go through everything. I probably should have done that during our school break. I say that every year.. But once our school break comes I am dealing with yearbook pictures for our homeschool group, the holidays…and then I just kind of zonk out.

Priorities, y’all. I have a hard time arranging that…as is evidenced by last weeks word, lol.


Well, that’s my five minutes! Are you going to join me every Friday for this Five Minute Friday? 🙂

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Our family trip to PA and NYC

Now that we have a vehicle that fits our family better, we decided to take a road trip! Jeffy had some things to do in PA and so we just piggy backed on his business trip! We haven’t really had a vacation since we moved to NC…we have done a couple night stays at various places, but no real vacations. Here is a little about our family trip to PA and NYC.

Our family trip to PA and NYC

We started out in good spirits. It doesn’t happen that we all go very many places together anymore, with Ryan’s crazy work schedule and just the mere busyness of life. It was nice to be all together!

Our family trip to PA and NYC

This isn’t the best pic, but the first night we stayed in Pittsburgh. Jeffy had a work thing so the kids and I drove to a few places. I wanted to see the city at night since it was our only night there, so I looked up a place to go. We went to this park and it was definitely a great view of the city!

There were quite a few different people there and a random dog that was walking around that seemed to be owned by a few different people, or nobody, it was hard to tell.. The view was so great though! There was a game that night so that is what that big blob of light is.

Our family trip to PA and NYCOur family trip to PA and NYC

The next day we went to the Duqesne Incline. We parked across the street and went up, across, and over to get to this building on the other side.

It was a very inexpensive ticket and you go up on these tracks. It was the craziest thing, but it worked!

Our family trip to PA and NYC

Here was the view from the top. Pretty similar to the view that we had the night before, just in the daytime! I would like to spend more time in Pittsburgh sometime!

After a night in the city we were on our way to Mount Gretna, PA. It is almost in the middle of the state. Thankfully I had a friend who is from that area and she gave me a lot of suggestions on things to do, and what kind of potato chips to buy! That was a crazy hunt for those things, lol.

Our family trip to PA and NYC

We had to stop in Hershey! Hershey’s Chocolate World was calling me.. It was a very bad weather day, rain, rain, and more rain.. But we did ok. It was definitely not a day for the amusement park, but the tour and all was good anyway, and they give you a chocolate at the end.

If you couldn’t find the Hershey merchandise that you wanted here, then there would definitely be something wrong, because they had it all! That little Kiss in the pic up there is pretty much what I looked like walking around all that chocolate…just sayin’.

Our family trip to PA and NYC

My friend told me about Julius Sturgis and how they give tours and such. It was such an informative tour and they have you fold a pretzel and hey, you get a certificate when you are done! 😉

You get a small bag at the end of the tour. The pretzels were different than what we were used to, I found them quite tasty! I love the history of places like this.

Our family trip to PA and NYC

We stayed a couple days in Mount Gretna. So this allowed us to explore more. Penn’s Cave was something that looked interesting! It had snowed there recently so I was curious how cold it was going to be.

What is cool is that the cave is pretty much 52 degrees year round, so it was actually warmer in the cave than it was outside! It is also one of the only caves that you can tour all by boat!

I only had my phone for photos, so I didn’t get many great ones, but they have them lit so well it was pretty dang cool. There were stalagmites and stalactites and we all got dripped on by the water that was coming through.

Towards the end they took a quick ride out onto the lake on the other side where we could see some of the animals on the property, mostly deer, that sort of thing. They have a petting zoo and actually a lot more to do, but it was so cold and rainy, they weren’t offering much that day, and really, nobody wanted to do them anyway…

Our family trip to PA and NYC

This was the AirBnB that we stayed in.. I totally recommend it if you are in the area! They had the heat going before we got there so it was nice and toasty. This was us on the way out getting rained on.. Brr… And then we were on our way to NYC!

Our family trip to PA and NYC

This is me, with Ryan in the background, on the subway. It was so cold, I just wanted some gloves! We stopped in Lucky and got me the scarf, which totally helped. It was so warm!

Our family trip to PA and NYC

We stayed in Hell’s Kitchen, within walking distance of Times Square. Our place was on the 38th story, which gave us plenty of beautiful views!

Our family trip to PA and NYC

We did the boat ride to see the statue of liberty.. It was so, so cold…so we stayed on the inside of the boat the whole time. Hey, they had the heat going!

For a long time I have also been on the hunt for the best eclair. Previously, I had to say it was this place in MA that Jeffy and I went to.. There is a chance though that this one beat it. A taste test might have to occur. I mean, to be fair and all, right?

Our family trip to PA and NYC

Yup, we got rained on… But I couldn’t skip getting the pics on the red stairs in Times Square!

Our family trip to PA and NYC

After a couple days in NYC we were off again, heading to Philadelphia! And this is pretty much what we did. The boys had their own room and us and Lauren had our room. With all of our comings and goings, not to mention packing and unpacking, we were all tired.

It was the day before Thanksgiving and we left the hotel room at 8:30 in the morning. What should have taken maybe 6 hours to get home took a lot longer…with all of our stops trying to find a turkey, construction traffic, holiday traffic, all that good stuff…we didn’t get home until 8:30 at night. It was such a long day of driving!

Thankfully we got home safely and everything was well and good at the house. Our animals are cared for by someone while we are gone too, which is a relief.

We did more than I listed, but I realize this post was getting extremely long, so I narrowed things down a bit. You get the general idea though.



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My memory makers

One thing that I do every year, and have now for many years…is take a photo a day. A couple years ago, I also jumped on the one second video a day dealio. These things are what I call my memory makers.

my memory makers

For the picture a day, for a few years I have been following Chantelle @fatmumslim on Instagram. At the beginning of the month she lists that months daily word prompts. A lot of the words are pretty simple, but every now and again she posts one that throws me a bit!

I take all of my photos with  my iphone so some of the word prompts are tricky… Like bokeh and some other photography type words. But most of the time I can figure something out!

What I love most about these picture of the day prompts is that they have me looking at things that I may not look at otherwise. Even when the word is just a color or something. I then notice that color more while I am out and about, or even at home!

I love looking back on these pictures via timehop or even my facebook memories now that I have them.. I do realize that I don’t take many pictures with family members, but I hope to work on that more.

my memory makers

The other thing that I am doing is 1se, or, one second every day. It is just a small one second video of part of your day.

I did this a couple years ago and I got some great moments, that even though they are just a second, they are so great to look back on!

Last year, I just was thinking that our lives are pretty boring and monotonous and so I didn’t do it, and Jeffy and I both wish that I had. So that made me decide to do it again this year.

They have updated the app and added a few things. You can now rotate your video and even add and extra second because sometimes one second isn’t enough.

Both of these things will be great to look back on in the future. Now you know why I call them my memory makers.. Do you do either one of these, or both?


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Where did my motivation go?

As part of my goal to blog more often, I thought I would try and keep up with Five Minute Friday again! If you don’t know what that is, it is basically a community of Christian writers that write for five minutes, and only five minutes, on the given prompt.

There is no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

I love that because sometimes I will just have so many thoughts going through my head that I just don’t know where to start..

Basically, set your timer for five minutes and then stop when the timer goes off…easy peasy! Care to join? Check out the Five Minute Friday website!

Today’s prompt is:

Where did my motivation go


I don’t know why the prompt for today is so perfect…but it is! I have been complaining for a week now about not having motivation to get anything done. Maybe it is the after holiday release…or the fact that we are still on school holiday.. I have just been so lazy lately!

Where did my  motivation go?

I realize that the prompt is probably suggesting that I talk about motivating other people, or something along those lines.. But how can I do that if I can’t even motivate myself?

I have a huge list of things that I should be working on. One of the problems is that I don’t know where to start.. And another is that I think of starting one of them and I just say ‘eh’…and go find something else to do.

I know my motivation will come back at the worse time, like right in the middle of our school year starting, or if we get a foster know, when I am going to be busy.

That’s the way it goes.

I am hoping that I get some stuff done soon! Do you have motivation to get stuff done right now? Send some to me! 😉


Ok, well, I guess that was five minutes!

Are you going to join me in doing the Five Minute Friday?

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The first snow of 2018!

We are notorious for stalking our weather bug app on our phones. I used to have it installed on my computer for years and it is just the most accurate we have found. Yesterday I saw on the news that they said chance of snow so of course I checked the app and nothing. Although there was some snow type ‘stuff’ on the radar map.

As I was checking facebook I saw someone in the town over say that it was snowing.. So I got out of my nice warm bed and went to see what it looked like outside.

The first snow of 2018!

This is from our front door. I had only put my slippers on so I couldn’t go very far. That is our welcome mat from Christmas… But really, it looked like mostly ice was coming down!

Ryan was scheduled to work until 11pm so we were kind of nervous as he hasn’t ever driving in snow really, much less ice. Thankfully they let him go home around 8pm or so. Also thankfully, he has the Durango which is 4wd. He did that all the way home and of course it took him a while to get here, but he did. :whew:

After we got all situated we were able to get back into the heated bed, because heated mattress pads are the best invention ever for the winter…and watch tv. On a random note, let me know what shows you are watching lately!

As I was getting all bundled up in the morning to go out to feed the goats, I looked out our bathroom window and it was so beautiful outside! I knew I was going to miss the photo opportunity of the moment, but I hurriedly put on all my layers and ran out to get what I could.

The first snow of 2018!

This is as good as I could get with my phone. For one, I was freezing…and two, all of the animals were yelling at me for their breakfast. You can see Cody sticking his head out of the goat house…and all the while Pogo was yelling at my feet. I wish I could have gotten the picture of what I saw from the bathroom upstairs though!

So this is the first snow of 2018! It wasn’t much, but it is still beautiful! 🙂

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Who I am…

So, I realize I have had this blog for what seems like forever now! Some of you started back with me at the beginning, and some are just finding my blog today. I thought I would give a little intro into who I am…

Who I am

This is our little family. All the kids are teens now, which is just crazy to me.. Jeffy and I got married in 1996 and honestly, that’s a little crazy to me as well!

Ryan graduated high school recently, Kyle completed drivers ed and is waiting to do the drivers portion, and Lauren is still doing wonderfully as our bird wrangler…

We are a homeschool family, for now. We are always willing to change it up whenever it is called for! Our school year is a little different than most, we start around January/February and end around October/November. I love that schedule as it gives us most of the fall off which is my favorite month. Not too cold, not too hot, pretty dang perfect.

We live in North Carolina. Been here going on six years already! Doesn’t seem that long! We moved here from Arizona in an RV and we stayed in that for three months until we were able to get into our house. It was the five of us as well as three cats and two dogs. It was something nobody will ever forget!

Foster care is important to us. We have been licensed for foster care for over a year now. While we haven’t had a placement yet, we have been able to help out a couple families with respite care. At least there is that! Who knows if we will ever get a placement, which means that our county is doing well for not having kids in care!

I think 2018 is going to be a huge year. There are a lot of changes that may or may not happen and I am pretty excited to see which way it will go. 2017 was pretty nice, so it will be interesting to see for sure which way this year be.

Who I am

I have a few different topics that I talk about on my blog. I do talk about homeschooling and about different curriculum that I like and use. I usually share about what our main curriculum is at the beginning of our school year, which will hopefully be in a few weeks or so! (The sooner we start, the sooner we can stop in the fall!)

There are some recipes that I mention from a stack of random handwritten sticky notes with no titles that I make so I can figure out what they are exactly. Sometimes I get a weird kick and decide to do some meal planning, so I talk about that.

Thursday Things is where I mention five things that I enjoyed about the previous week. They aren’t sponsored things, and sometimes they aren’t things at all, just something good that happened.

Can’t forget books! I love me some books! The first of every month I do a What I Read post about the books that I read the previous month. I use Goodreads for my reading challenge, which I mentioned the last few days.

There are some other things that I try to do consistently, but it all just depends on time and what’s going on.. You know, life and all that.

One goal for 2018 is to blog more and about important stuff, not just fluff. I always felt better after writing about something that mattered and I want to get back to that..

So, that is who I am in a nutshell. If you stick around, I am sure you will find out more! 🙂

I am going to link up to the Schoolhouse Homeschool Friday, so feel free to click on the image if you are interested!

Who I am

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Goodreads Reading Challenge 2018

I am so excited for 2018…and one of the reasons is it is another Goodreads challenge! I have been doing so well with them the last few years! The last couple times I have started with 62 books as my goal. Last year I flew right by them! So, for the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2018 I have decided to set it at 65 books!

Now, I don’t know what our year looks like, so I only went up a few books. We may be having a lot of change over the course of the year, so I didn’t want to go crazy with say, 100 books or anything, lol.

Goodreads has a great end of the year summary.. Here is part of mine!

Goodreads reading challenge 2018

Goodreads reading challenge 2018

This graphic is such a great thing to look back on! Quite a difference in pages from my shortest to longest! Kind of balances out I suppose? At the end they have covers from all the books I read throughout the year. Crazy seeing them all in one place!

Some people include things like cookbooks and whatnot in their counts. I don’t know how I feel about doing that on mine just yet. I guess if they had little stories as well? I can’t imagine just counting recipes.. But on the other hand, it would be nice to keep track of which cookbooks you liked vs. the ones that you didn’t.. Hmm.

Right now I have four stacks of books sitting here from the library. I better get busy! I am going to have a lot of free time next week so I imagine I will be able to knock at least a couple down. 🙂

Do you have a Goodreads goal? I like the community on there as well..I can see some of my friends that want to read 8 books this year, and some that want to read 100. And all sorts of numbers in between.

Goodreads reading challenge 2018

This is pretty much what I expect I will look like for most of the year.. And honestly, I can’t wait!

As usual, let me know if you have any book title suggestions! I seem to go in spurts on what I am interested in, you can kind of tell when I do my monthly book reviews. I still seem to be on a mystery kick with a little YA in there.

The Goodreads Reading Challenge 2018 has me ready to read!!!

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What I read in December

Well, I read the same this month as I did last month.. Granted, we had some visitors, and holidays.. And I did start a book that I probably won’t finish until after the new year that has seemed to take a while. Here is what I read in December!

What I read in December

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica –

“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.” 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

What I thought: This one had me definitely wanting to read more, and that is for sure a plus! I liked how it kept hinting one way and then another…you kinda knew what was going to happen and then you didn’t…

What I read in December

In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody – Kennedy Rhodes turns down an acceptance to an elite private school, instead choosing to stay at her high school and jump at the opportunity to date the boy of her dreams. Three years later, Kennedy walks in on that same boyfriend cheating with her best friend—and wishes she had made a different choice. But when Kennedy hits her head and wakes up in the version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that maybe it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.

What I thought: This is kind of along the same lines as a Freaky Friday type thing, but different. I liked the characters and it was interesting to read the ‘what if’…

Those are the two books that I read this month! I should be picking up the pace again after the new year!

As always, I will take any suggestions you have on books that you have loved lately! I have been on a mystery kick, but still always like to read a little YA… 🙂 I hope you all have a great 2018 and read a lot of books!!

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What I read in November

Well, not much read this month, but with holidays and traveling and such…it just didn’t happen. I am way passed my goals on Goodreads though, so I feel ok about it. How did y’all do this month on books read? Let me know your favorites! Anyway, here is what I read in November!

What I read in November

The Beach Trees by Karen White – From the time she was twelve, Julie Holt knew what a random tragedy can do to a family. At that tender age, her little sister disappeared-never to be found. It was a loss that slowly eroded the family bonds she once relied on. As an adult with a prestigious job in the arts, Julie meets a struggling artist who reminds her so much of her sister, she can’t help feeling protective. It is a friendship that begins a long and painful process of healing for Julie, leading her to a house on the Gulf Coast, ravaged by hurricane Katrina, and to stories of family that take her deep into the past.

What I thought: I thought this book was well done, I liked the characters. I wanted to read more, some pieces felt left out…but I thought it was a cute story.

What I read in November

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan – Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

What I thought: I enjoyed seeing what would happen next in this book. Granted, some of the plot seemed silly, but I went with it. I did enjoy the suspense of it all as the character was well done…

So, those are the only books that I read this month! I have been on a mystery/suspense kick lately! Do you have any that you would suggest? Let me know!!

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Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Review}

I have mentioned Writing with Sharon Watson before and how much we have enjoyed it! In the past we have used Jump In! as well as The Power In Your Hands. Both were very good! She has others out there, but this one fascinated me so much! It is Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis. 

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Now, we have read some pretty heavy duty books this school year! I was impressed that they hung in there as long as they did! Even though our school year was just about at the end, they were still up for more! I think it helps that I read the books out loud so they can just listen…

We have delved into characters a bit in our literature, but not anything thoroughly. I love that this book really gets into the characters. The course really gets you thinking about things, your opinions, and just how things are or could be!

The set I used consisted of three paperback books, the one shown above which is for the students, a Teacher’s Guide, and a Quiz and Answer Manual. There was also a fantastic PDF download of a Novel Notebook.

Like the other curricula we have used from Sharon Watson, the beginning of the student book asks questions, basically to find out how the student feels about literature. There is also a section that pretty much explains literature and why we read it, character labels, and into antagonists. Then there is an activity to take a book or movie the student likes and answer questions about it. It gets them started for the rest of the book, the real stuff!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The Teacher’s Guide is wonderful! I couldn’t imagine doing this course without it! The course is broken down into lessons and tells you what to do on each day. I LOVE when a curriculum has this! Otherwise I get overwhelmed and I want to do it all in one day, this gives me a stopping point!

Grades are sometimes hard with literature based curriculum! Sharon Watson includes a grading grid to make it easy…and it is! It’s a very simple system broken down into six sections, each section worth from 1-25 points and then you just tally each section for the final grade!

There is so much information in the Teacher’s Guide. There are ISBN numbers for the books she lists; she suggests ways on using this course as a Book Club, which I think is a great idea and I never would have thought about that on my own!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The Novel Notebook is another great thing that goes with this course! In fact, it is recommended that it be mandatory, which I think is a great suggestion. We got the PDF of this and it is an amazing thing. It really makes the students think about what they have read and even apply it to their own life, or think about things on a deeper level than what they may be used to.
Illuminating Literature Characters in Crisis example

At the end of each chapter is this page. They can write what they want to remember about the story and what they want to forget. I know with some of the books we have read already this year, there are definitely a few things the kids want to forget…ha! But I like that they can look back on the book and remember the good as well as the bad.

The questions for the first book are a lot easier than the questions for the next book, which is Frankenstein. The questions get pretty deep, so you may want to look at them before hand. Topics such as suicide are brought up and certain people have qualms about such topics unless they are bringing them up.

Back to the main books… As you can see, the first book is A Jury of Her Peers and it is actually included in the student book, since it isn’t that long. Even with the story not being that long, there is still over 30 pages of questions and information in the student book. Of course a few pages of that IS the story.

At the end of each section, there is a choice of activities that the student can do. This does wonders for kids that may learn in different ways! Some of the activities are researching, creating, rewriting, singing, and some other things that apply only to that particular story. This section right here puts this curriculum over the top for me! I mean, we are used to doing unit studies and that type of learning, so maybe that’s why, but I think it is a great addition.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The last book is the Quiz and Answer Manual. It is mentioned that this could be optional, but really, I think it should be included for sure! For each book there is a multiple choice quiz, basically to see that they read the book and what they retained from it; then there is a fill in the blank quiz that is about literary terms. There is a word bank to choose the answers from, so hopefully there isn’t a deer in the headlights look when they get to that.

I could really just go on and on about this curriculum, it is my new favorite from Sharon Watson! I have always been fascinated with characters in books and I hope the kids start thinking of them differently now too! I am excited that we haven’t read any of the books on the list before except for one! Looking forward to using this when we start up school again!

You can download free sample chapters, grading grids, and quizzes if you would like to check it out! Sometimes it helps to see it for yourself before deciding to try it or not!

If you want to read what others thought about Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis, feel free to click the banner below!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

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