How to Thrive with Your Kids in Summer

I’m excited it’s summertime.  I couldn’t be happier.  I mean, we welcome spring because it means newness, a fresh start – but it doesn’t mean we switch much more than our time outside planting.  But with summer, lots changes!

What Makes Summer So Different?

Summer means travel, AND it means kids’ schooling changes for both homeschoolers and “building” schoolers.   And any different schooling pace means a HUGE change.

Instead of dreading the change in schedule, this year, I decided to thrive with my kids in summer.

I took a look at what they love most about school.  They LOVE centers.  They love the focused time, they love the single activity, and they love what they learn through them.

How We Do It

So to start, we set up centers in our home.  I’m excited to share this with you so that perhaps it will help your family, too!

My kids are located among 5 locations in my own home (and outside), in rotation.  This makes sure there is less interaction between them.

Don’t worry, we have group activities, too.  They LOVE being together, don’t worry – I just want to ensure they have time when they are not being interrupted by a sibling.  We love to learn – I want to create an environment where they can learn themselves, and from each other.

I’m also an introvert and need quiet time.  This will ensure I don’t burn out this summer.  I’m just calling it like it is: I’m no hero.

Without Further Ado

Here are our centers!

1- The Independent Reading Center

independent reading center

From early on, I’ve had to resist the TV.  We watch about 30 min to an hour one day a week, and we have movie night on Fridays.  So we fill our media cup up through reading.  We participate in three summer reading programs:
– Barnes & Noble
– our local library
– our post/base library and
– my own geographically-unbound summer reading challenge (find out more here).

Having this independent reading nook is going to make excelling at all of these challenges possible!
I’ve been asked if one book counts for two or more programs.  I will tell you I’ve moved away from doing that.  Why?  Once they’ve completed a reading program, starting a new reading program keeps things fresh, and my kids feel the blessing of achievement more than once during the summer.

2 – The Activity Book Center
fingerprint book art

We decided on this center because as a result of being Book Boss kiddos, my kids have a ton of activity books!  I am able to buy brand new activity books at 33% cash back as a leader with Usborne Books & More, and earn even more free, so we have quite a few they didn’t get to during the school year.

The purpose of this is twofold: one, to be sure we stay within our budget this summer, and two, to allow my kids free space to work on things they’d already picked out! Here, my son is working on one of his Fingerprint Activity Books!  There are examples on each page of how to transform fingerprints into certain animals or objects.

3 – The Arts and Science Center

fairy garden magic painting art

I love to combine these two disciplines because at school they rarely get to combine them.  We did this a lot when I homeschooled my kiddos because I think wonder is implicit in both.
At this center, they get to choose from arts and science books to create something of beauty.  Again, we have a lot of art books because of my work with Usborne Books & More, so here, my daughter is using water to create color in her Fairy Gardens Magic Painting Book. 

My other daughter is enjoying exploring balance and gravity through craft popsicle sticks.  She isn’t finished yet 🙂
science craft

4 – The Baking Center

baking center summer

My kids love to bake, and that’s taken me some getting used to.  This summer, I’m embracing it and have created the baking center.  They can rotate through if they like for a portion of the day and create some goodness for the family to enjoy.


5 – The Outside “Center”

water plants in garden

Now, I really wish I had a better picture to show you, but I’m just being real here! 🙂 We had such a busy May our poor flowers are just hanging on.  Hopefully with dedicated time we can help these babies thrive, or enjoy replacing them.  Obviously, we need focus on the outside daily!

Don’t worry, there are thriving plants on the back porch.

This is when we also bike around outside (this is a place we love to be together – there is enough space for everyone!).  We will also go to our local swimming pool.

BONUS #6 – The Snack Center


My son got really into this system.  He figured out what I was going for.  When he asked if we could therefore have a snack center, I nearly lost my mind laughing.  Then, actually, I decided it was a great idea!

So yes, we call it a center – that, and lunch, and chores, and laundry…. I also added a computer center where they can choose an educational game or coding practice using one of our coding books.

So you see, there is hope for your summer!  If you’re balancing a lot, you can work when the kiddos are doing independent work.

If you are in the season when they need you a lot, perhaps you can make yourself some centers.  That might help bring focus to YOUR life.

Either way, if this blessed you let me know.  I’d love for you to feel free to pass this along and share!

Heading off to my COFFEE CENTER now! 😉



You Can Do It: Thank You!

I spent a bit of time at craft fairs this fall.  Oh, the people I met were EVERYTHING.
– beautiful
– nerdy
– trendy
– gregarious
– shy and
– FUN.

I LOVED craft-fairing this year! I will tell you about some of these people here in a minute.


One of the products I offered was a 30 card box of cards for $30.  They are gorgeous.  Many people fell in love with the value, AND the box, and were quite happy to have something to gift that was so beautiful and useful.

thanks and blanks june 2019

[They can actually be ordered here:]

However, one of the things I was surprised by was the number of people who said, “Nobody sends cards anymore.”
I was so intrigued by this person, Nobody!
I really wanted to meet them!
But they couldn’t pinpoint who Nobody was.

nobody, somebody, searching

Photo by Nattaphat Phau on

So I would ask them, “Do YOU send cards?” and of course there were varying responses. Some remembered they LOVED to, others told me stories about cards they had received in years past and what they meant to them, others snapped up the chance to gift a box.

But many were held back by this Nobody person.


I’m not sure when Nobody started dictating what one person did or wanted to do, but it made me sad that they had so much pull on individuals’ lives 🙂

Of course, I am completely joking here! I know what they were saying.  I absolutely get it.  But what I don’t get is their response to this trend.

You probably heard this from a parent, “Just because Everybody is doing it, you don’t have to.”

man jumps from to water

Photo by Jacub Gomez on

Well, my friend, here’s its cousin:
“Just because Nobody is doing it, doesn’t mean you CAN’T.”

And it’s true.

YOU can do it. Plus, it’s a blast to come up with ways to say thank you.  Here’s one of my favorite ones from an 80s themed Facebook book-party I did a couple of years ago.

crimper 80s Thank you

And here’s another one I did for a book-partying friend who was totally into exercise.

woman at the gym doing exercise on the floor

I’ve since changed my biz name to “Wendy’s Happy Books” so that I wouldn’t have to keep spelling “Usborne” but you get the idea, which is…


Communication in any form is valuable.  By my scientific estimates, however, the value of a piece of snail mail is worth 10 times that of an email.

Receiving a card in the mail means someone took that time to think of you AND gave you a gift – amazing.

Plus, the value of encouragement and recognition for doing something sweet, or doing something well, simply increases the happy vibes in the world.

usborne happy wall

And we all know we need more of that.


So, don’t let Nobody rule your actions.  Let Everyone know they are Someone to you.  Send them a thank you message in some way shape or form.

If you need a corny version of it, I’m not employed by Hallmark (yet) but as my two-piece portfolio above shows, I can certainly help you out 😉

And when you need a box of cards that will save you at least 30 minutes of wandering Target and thereby $100 of ghost purchases, let me know.  They will ship within days of your order (valid for continental US).


I challenge you to send TWO thank you cards this week!

And Happy THANKING!!!!!!

Let me know your thoughts, or how it goes, in the comments below 🙂
you get a thank you oprah

—–Did you know USPS will SEND you stamps? It’s true! Here’s the direct link:

Order a box of cards here: 

I do offer a Holiday box, All Occasion boxes, and Kids Birthday Card Boxes as well:

CFAC, cards, fundraiser, holiday, thank you

Five different boxes available

I’m all about sending JOY to the world! 🙂

Two EASY Teacher Gifts – Oh My!

I have zero recollection of my mother or father preparing a teacher gift.

I have zero recollection of bringing one in to my classroom.

I would like to think this trend of giving teachers gifts explodes even more so than it has in the past ten years!

Please comment below what gifts you gave/ or are giving your kids’ teachers this year.
Or, if you are an administrator, what did you do for your teachers?

Anyway, we gift books.  It’s what we do.  Now this year we are moving – again – so that’s been a challenge to get my act together… well, not going to lie, it is in years we AREN’T moving, too!

But having homeschooled for a teeny bit of time, I do know the effort that goes in to breathing life into your childrens’ academic lives, while keeping your head on straight!

And that was just with THREE children!

Anyway, if you gift books, and you would like to have this printable (4 tags on one sheet, to save paper, natch!), please be my guest.   You may download it at the end of the article!

It’s going to be so much fun to help my friends put together teacher appreciation gifts, and now with these tags, they will feel confident presenting these books.

Are you looking for a teacher appreciation book or item?  Try this link which categorizes children’s books by ages – a super quick way to get books you need for the teachers in your life!:

Here’s another idea, too!  This is the Box of Awesome and wow – I don’t know of any teacher who wouldn’t give you a huge hug for this gift!

Box of Awesome

Box of Awesome! Who’s Awesome? YOU’RE AWESOME!

Perfect for any parent, too – I plan on getting mine to have available this summer for rewarding my kids all summer long.

Yes, I reward my kids in the summer.

Because, hello – SURVIVAL!?

Purchase yours here:

Alright friend, thanks for reading – here’s your free printable for those teacher book gifts.

No tricks: just enjoy!  Here’s the link to the PDF:


And Happy Reading!

Do You Have Bad Mom Syndrome?

I wonder if too many of us have “Bad Mom Syndrome.”
No, it’s not from watching the movie.  Actually it might be featured there, but I haven’t watched it since I don’t need access to even more wacko ideas.

Ha! Just trying to keep it together here.

But because you are probably short on time, as a mom,  I’ll get right to it: it’s that place of constant guilt.  The imagination that you are a bad mom for juggling different things instead of having hyper focus ALL. THE. TIME.


timelapse and greyscale photography of woman

Photo by Luanna Cabral on

You Are Not a Bad Mom

Juggling lots of different things does not make you a bad mom.
In fact juggling was probably created for us to manage, expressly because we manage so many different things, well.

Repeat after me:

You are not a bad mom for working.
You are not bad at work because of your focus as a mom.
You’re not alone.  The struggle is real.
In a past career in the military, I saw many friends have to choose, one or the other. In my units, I saw zero examples of a woman making it work.  
What? I’m being honest.
So when MY time came to choose, I told myself, I could stay in and be an example, or I could get out.
I always envisioned myself as a pioneer, but at that time I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t be the example. I got out of the military. 
For me, for my tiny family, the choice was clear – but many of my friends, working in and outside the home, still struggle daily with this pull. And I sometimes do, too.

photo of a woman thinking

Photo by bruce mars on

Early Beginnings

I feel like this guilt starts early.  We live in a culture that is geared toward “either/or.” Early on in life, we are asked this question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and it’s so limiting.

Like we can only be or do one thing!

It limits God. It also limits His time.

It limits us to think we are only productive only AFTER – after we’ve grown up, or after something else is accomplished… why?

It’s madness to think that not finishing everything we juggle is a sign of a bad mom!  You can relax! You were made for many things. 

It’s my belief that this seemingly harmless elementary school question limits us as a culture.  It certainly causes confusion among parents searching for “their one thing.”
girls on desk looking at notebook

Photo by Pixabay on

Rewording Life

So I rephrase that question, from “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to
“What are you called to be or do RIGHT NOW?”
You can ask that of children and they know their contribution matters NOW.
You can ask that of grown adults who feel that any career change is a midlife crisis.

In this question, change is free to be change: it can be a natural movement instead.
You are free to pull from your past experience to build upon your future.

And each of your roles has built you for your next purpose.

barefoot beach blur break

Photo by on

Moving Forward Beyond Bad Mom Syndrome

May I give you some hope: when you’re doing what you’re called to do, paid or not, from the home, from a computer, or in a brick & mortar workplace, EVERY role you play makes you better at EVERY thing else you do.
I’d love to hear from you. 
I’m making a huge assumption here, but what has been your struggle?

To Purge or Not to Purge? That is the Konmari Question.

The Netflix TV show “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo is taking the nation by storm.

This woman’s gentle, joyful method of tidying up has shop-happy Americans cleaning up their acts one trash bag at a time.

Marie Kondo’s show demonstrates her using the Konmari method (a name she made up based on her first and last name, but I say kudos!) to several families in need of help.  She arrives, with a massive sweet smile and sweet intention. She helps the family to see what they DO have – love, a safe home, family – and then gets to work training them to get rid of what they do NOT need.

Yet, when it comes to books, several book-advocates draw the line.

Turning a Page on Marie Kondo

In a recent episode, books were on her chopping block.  And that lit up a firestorm (which I suppose is better than a, he-hem, bonfire).

Ron Charles of the Washington Post boldly declared books were off limits in his piece called “Keep Your Tidy, Spark-Joy Hands off my Book Piles, Marie Kondo.”  Now typically, titles are no more than 6 words, but I suppose that to demonstrate he is so adamantly against purging books, he splurged on words themselves.

I was so taken by his article I made this graphic to remember its bite.

Ron Charles, books, konmari, Marie Kondo, Tidying Up

Another article from The Guardian was titled, “Why We Gain from Keeping Books – and Why It Doesn’t Need to Be Joy.” The author, Anakana Schofield begs readers to see Marie Kondo’s method as an insidious way to discourage reading.

In a flat refusal of Marie’s trending joy-centered purging, Schofield explains why books should be exempt: “Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us” (The Guardian, Schofield, 2019).

Sirens At Work Unbinding Culture

And it’s this statement which blew my eyes open to the reality that not every scourge against reading in our day has to be among the bonfire likes of “Fahrenheit 451.”  To be sure, Ray Bradbury’s book has helped us to train our eyes to see the threat to culture to come in the form of a police state and outright censorship.

The First Siren

But the threat evermore becomes one of beauty, a siren that beckons.  For the last 10 years, it’s been the onslaught and expectation of being entertained at every moment by bright lights flickering on portable screens (I know many people benefit from reading books on screens – that comment is not addressed to you).  A flashy screen is hard to resist. Endless games, apps…

Which – commercial break – is why I make these for my kids.  They love crossing off the boxes as they complete 20 minutes.  Here’s one for winter! My daughter reminds me I am to share it with you here!  For a PDF version, click on the download box – you’ll start to get news and deals in your email box if so!  I want you to have the very best 😉

usborne (7)

The Second Siren

Getting back to the issue at hand, another threat to culture lately has been the trend toward emulating home-decor-perfection.  Bookshelves are messy?  Turn the bindings backward so all you see are pages. Or, simply take most of the books off the shelves to show 3 at a time with a plant and a mirror.  After all, aren’t books just for show?

Just think of all the fun conversations we are missing out on by keeping titles hidden.

The Third Siren

And then we have this most recent siren – the one of simplicity.  Make no mistake, this trend is important to heed, especially in America.  Nothing has had a better effect on my mental health and cleaning schedule like downsizing our home!

But like Charles and Schofield, I draw the line at books.  I feel it’s a threat to an open mind.  Who can resist having an impossibly sweet organizer whisper “you don’t need anything that doesn’t make you happy” in my ear when all those challenges to my thoughts, embodied in titles and pictures, and sometimes cringe-worthy reads, have indeed made me who I am today.

In fact, I can’t imagine a more superficial threading of books on my shelf than whether it gives me joy.

Roy Charles, Washington Post, konmari method, marie kondo, books

Indeed, if I could quote the artful Schofield one last time, “Unread books are imagined reading futures, not an indication of failure.”

See your shelves for what they are: your imagination’s future.

And Marie Kondo, I thank YOU.

Alaska Cruise for Free? Yes, Please.

The second week of June, our company, Usborne Books & More, announced an incentive trip to Alaska!  This is a FREE seven day cruise with stopovers in Vancouver – which I’m super excited about, as that’s where I honeymooned!

The excursion trips are sure to be amazing too.  I’m counting on kayaking, exploring first nation culture in Alaska, and simply keeping my eyes open for bears, whales, and moose!

earn a trip to alaska

I’m so excited to earn this WITH my teammates, too.  You see, anyone who joins, ANY TIME, can start earning this trip!  You don’t need seniority or anything special to earn it – just a work ethic and the desire to share the books and this business!

Most of my business includes encouraging and equipping others with the tools they need to succeed.  It is my delight to do this. The books are awesome, we all know Usborne books rock – but the people this business attracts?  Even BETTER, can you believe it?!

alaskan cruise team pic

If this is something you’re thinking of working toward, let’s join forces.  I promise you that only good can come from working your business!  Check out these bonuses:
– commission
– free books
– a home-based business with flexibility
– kids steeped in the books of THEIR choice
– high quality training
– FRIENDSHIPS you won’t expect and had no idea you needed.

I’m not trying to sound trite by saying friendships.  That is hands down the best benefit of this business and I wish someone had blown through my pride years ago to show me the potential there.

The cool part is, we are all connected via our trainings and our group pages, so we connect quite often on lots of different levels, not just the business!

wonder women cape convention 2018

PLUS, we get to see each other every year when we go to convention, and some times I get to see my friends three times a year, depending on leadership conferences and our beach training!

Yeah, I said BEACH training!!!

team leader beach retreat new consultant mindset

Oh my friend, there is so much I could talk your ear off about, and it seems strange to say it – but ALASKA could just be your BEGINNING!!!

Adventure is in every book – but I’m here to tell you, it’s also in every book business.

Contact me here and we’ll start the conversation!~

Happy Reading!

If you already know you are ready to start, let’s go!  Start by clicking here.

Look!  We even get a coloring sheet tracker so our family can keep up with us as we earn our points to ALASKA!  I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!  In fact, you need to download your own READING tracker on my tab here on the page!  Tons of benefits to coloring as you READ, friends!

coloring sheet alaska cruise