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! 😉



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

The Fort Bragg Fisher House Needs Help

Recently, the Fort Bragg Fisher House reached out to the community stating that there were needs.  The Fisher House at Fort Bragg helps over 100 famlies each year.  But their bookcases are looking worn, and could look better and be equipped better to help those families.

I saw this list of needs, and because last year our fundraiser and book raiser for them was so successful, I asked if I could provide that help again.  Technically they are not allowed to say yes or no – so I thought, I will work toward this goal because I know my network is AMAZING; indeed, last year, we raised $300 in NEW books for those kids!  Want to try to bless them that way again?


The Fisher House provides help to over 100 families yearly, as they wait for their soldiers to heal at the nearby Womack Army Hospital.  Their facility is incredible.  Handicap accessible, kitchen ready for many families, a beautiful setting and even an enclosed back yard full of toys for children.


However, as we well know, books that are read well need to be updated and replaced.  So, to provide help and stories to the families at the Ft Bragg Fisher House, I am launching our book drive.  It is easy and simple.  You can become involved by doing one of two things:

1) Go to and select one, two, or even 20 books from the list you’d like to donate.  Choose “SHIP WITH ORGANIZATION” at checkout and the books ship free!  I’ll send you a huge thank you, and if you are a business, I’ll give you a shout out on social media!

2) Copy and paste this message on your social media sites because EVERY BOOK HELPS:

The Ft Bragg Fisher House takes care of more than 100 soldiers’ families each year.  Now they’re asking for our help!  You can help by selecting any books from this list and having them sent to the Fisher House free of charge. Simply click here and select “SHIP WITH ORGANIZATION” for free shipping directly to the home!

I’d love to wrap this up for them by August 15.  Please please please help us get the word out.  These soldiers’ families deserve the very best.  It is my intention to give them the very best in children’s stories – books that last longer than most – and send them love in the quality of gifts they will receive.

Thank you for supporting our soldiers!

Happy Reading,

P. S. Here’s the direct link to “My Mommy is a Hero” :
Here’s the direct link to “My Daddy is a Hero” :


VIPKID Tips: 2 Key Books for the Instructor

I was excited to learn of VIPKID, the program developed to connect English teachers with Chinese students.

I was excited because I am FOR anything that gives people financial options, which is why I joined Usborne Books & More in July 2014.

If you are here, you may know about VIPKID already, but suffice it to say, I was out of the running for it for time reasons.  I love my sleep.

Which is why my hat is off to you if you are an instructor! 🙂

Some of my book boss teammates ARE good at waking up early, though, and do this in addition to their Usborne Books & More careers, so I thought I’d ask them what books of ours they use to instruct their students.  Here was the result!

first words and dollhouse book VIPKID teacher tip

First Words and the Dollhouse Book for the win!

They use our first word books and the Victorian Dollhouse book to help their students learn more words in English.  I found that fascinating, but understandable! Here’s why.

The first word books are actually solid page format – so, not quite board book, and not quite regular pages.  This means they are easily held up to the screen a VIPKID instructor uses to do their instruction.  This ALSO means they are durable through MANY lessons.  WIN WIN!  With all of them, that’s at least 400 words to teach.  Brilliant.

The Dollhouse book contains both a book and the materials to actually construct a dollhouse, complete with characters and furniture!

This choice made sense to me after they explained it to me.  We have one of these and my children LOVED constructing it, (and reconstructing it when we moved) but I never considered that it would be PERFECT for doing instruction on FURNITURE!

Because you can actually construct the furniture and the people, they are easily held up to the screen, and used and reused.  The material used in this is durable too!

Victorian Dollhouse Usborne

I also know that as a teacher, it’s important to have variety and surprise.  Students love variety and knowing that you are a teacher who provides variety is key to keeping them excited.  Who knew you could actually hold up a couch?

If you’re interested in purchasing these for your in-home classroom, click here for the first words and here for the dollhouse book.  Of course you can always just use them for your own kids too! 🙂

I also welcome questions you may have about the options and website or affiliate link available to you when you join our literacy force as an Usborne Books & More consultant.

The 25% cash back is nice when you need a lot of teaching materials (with option to grow it to 33% cash back)!  Join us here to ask questions in a forum, or simply comment below and we’ll be in touch.

Happy reading!

If you’re reading this and just wanting your children’s book affiliate link NOW, click here.