It does not feel like too long ago that my parents and all their friends experienced the life stage of turning 40. I can remember the parties, the “Over the Hill” paraphernalia , and the occasions when my dad would snag a wheelchair from his office to use as a fun party prop. Somehow I have found myself at this same life stage in which those around me are turning 40. Gone are the days of wedding and baby showers. Now we all gather at the latest birthday bash as a fellow friend enters a new decade. Thank goodness Hallmark has decided to phase out the “Over the Hill” black party favors and fortunately “wheelchair” humor is a dying breed.

Today I find myself beginning the year of facing down 40.

Today I turn 39.

Approaching 40 does not create fear in me or casue me to bemoan my age. Rather I embrace it. What a blessing to have been gifted 39 years with a promise of possibly more to come. Sure I recently saw a picture of myself which sent me straight to the skin care aisle of my local department store in search of miracle eye cream. Yes, my back and my knees hurt..especially when the weather changes. I have had the moment of horror when I glanced in the rearview mirror at a stoplight and wondered who in the world planted those gray hairs springing up from the top of my head? Signs of aging are making themselves known.

But guess what those signs mean: I have spent 39 years walking around this earth. Those lines under my eyes that were not there even 6 or 7 years ago? Well those lines are signs of happiness and joy…not signs of a body failing or of youth lost. That back and those knees may ache a bit, but they still keep me going on a daily basis.

Rather than fearing these signs or attempting to radically reverse them, I celebrate them. My wrinkles are not caused by a lifetime of sorrow or of heavy labor, unlike other women in this world. That thought humbles me. My legs still keep trucking despite others with the same diagnosis as me who lost mobility years ago. Again, what is an achy back compared to lack of independent movement? I can run and buy expensive eye cream, text my hair dresser when those pesky grays (who am I kidding? I am a redhead. There are no grays. We skip over that and go straight to white.) pop up, and I can get in quickly to my chiropractor  when the aches start to get the best of me. I have no complaints with my aging, but rather wear it as a sort of badge of honor and embrace it with humility.

As this day has approached, I have thought about what I want to do with this year leading up to 40. 38 taught me a lot of things: one of those being that my days are so very numbered. How am I spending those days and what am I doing with what I have been given? So often I just flitter about, with little detail to how I am spending my overall time and where I am pouring my efforts. I get caught up in the little picture of get up, workout, feed the family, educate the family, socialize with friends that I lose track of the dreams and desires of my heart. The dreams and desires of God’s heart.

This stirred in me a desire to make a list of things to accomplish this year. This list has some big things on it. It has a lot of small things on it. Some are important while others are frivolous . However, they all mean something to me.

Here, my friends, is my little yearlong project I like to call “#39inmy39th.” I plan to blog this journey as I travel down this path for the next 365 days. A few things will remain private, however most of them will be shared.

Without further rambling, here is the list:


  1. Attend 20 yoga classes this year.
  2. Complete a 1/2 marathon
  3. Complete the Whole30 at least once
  4. Climb a (small) mountain
  5. Read a previously unread classic novel
  6. Read a total of 39 books this year
  7. Memorize: The Lord’s Prayer, The Apostle’s Creed, The Great Commission, and The Beatitudes
  8. Finish my book proposal
  9. Attend She Speaks conference in July
  10. Speak at a conference/event
  11. Create an online master class (Don’t you wanna sign up for this???)
  12. Complete the book 52 Lists
  13. Take a class
  14. Publish something
  15. 1017 roomie reunion
  16. *****
  17. Have an Evelyn Day
  18. Have an Isaac Day
  19. Have a Tobe Day
  20. Create vision boards with the family
  21. Cook recipes from both my Grandmother and Grandma’s recipe collection (I have both stored at my house…and never look at them)
  22. Write regular letters to my grandmother
  23. Plan a surprise weekend roadtrip for my family
  24. Have family pictures made
  25. Be intentional about not hurrying the children (this is the only non-tangible thing on my list…but such a big issue for me)
  26. Take Isaac to see a Shakespeare play
  27. Take Evelyn to the ballet
  28. Donate time/efforts to a local organization that empowers women in my community
  29. Donate and raise money for the OM Foundation
  30. Have four families over for dinner (Who wants to come? I am so bad about hosting dinner parties.)
  31. ***
  32. Dine at five local restaurants in which we have never eaten
  33. Paint our master bathroom
  34. Zipline
  35. Finish an incomplete project around the house (ie the large bulletin board that has lived in my garage for two years)
  36. Keep a Gratitude Journal for the year
  37. Watch a classic film never seen before
  38. See a favorite band live
  39. Plan a trip to Nantucket (This is actually a present given to me by my husband. He knew about this list and asked for me to leave one space open. He told me for my 40th I get a trip to Nantucket…a place I am slightly obsessed with and have wanted to visit forever. This year I get to plan the trip and next summer I will go!)

There you have it: 39 in my 39th.

Hello, 39.

I am excited to get to know you.

Eager to see where you will take me.

Prayerful that you will lead me somewhere new.

And eternally grateful to get to experience you.

Homeschool Hacks: The Morning Basket

Do you ever ask yourself how Ma Ingells actually made life work out on the praire?

Because I am pretty sure I would have been out on the whole “little life on the praire” gig when I had to tap a tree for molasses, boil said molasses, and then pour it on the 12 feet of snow outside of my log cabin just to make a treat for my children.

(Who are we kidding…I would have been out when the whole “outhouse” aspect came into play.)

For example, when Ma Ingells found herself with a log cabin full of slightly-sick, ever-so grumpy children what were her options? Letting them stir the big pot of lye soap cooking on the back porch to entertain themselves? Darn the socks?

Things are a bit of a hot mess over here at casa de phillips at the moment and I am thankful that watching lye soap boil is not on my list of ways to save the day. Both kids have a cold that is leaving them beyond pleasant and I am running on just a few hours of sleep (I *may* have been at concerts the last two nights. The life of an almost-forty year old minivan driving mama is exhausting some times.). No one wants to do anything other than whine. Amazon Prime Now just saved my bacon with a delivery of iboprohen and Gatorade. Netflix may just be my saving grace for this afternoon.

Pretty sure Ma Ingels had neither Amazon Prime Now or Netflix out there on the praire…

It is times like these that can really test the fortitude of our homeschool. Let’s be honest, no one really wants to pull out the Shurley Grammar book and diagram sentences when they feel crummy. The deal with these colds is that the kids simply have the common cold. They are sick enough to feel (and act) like big blobs of mess but they have the ability to actually do some school.

This is where our homeschool basket really can save the day.


I have been doing the homeschool basket for years. It is simply a basket that holds a variety of teaching tools that we use everyday. For example, our basket holds the following:

*Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework (*)

*Everything You Need to Know About History Homework (*)

*our current read aloud book

*Math Flashcards

*Life of Fred Book

*One Minute Science Mysteries

*A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

*Maps and dry erase markers

*Devotional books for the kids


(*We use these books as extra information in regards to our Classical Conversations New Grammar material. We have a chart that allows us to dig deeper into the science and history New Grammar sentences using these books.)

All of these supplies live in cute little basket that sits by our piano. The cute basket is essential to making this formula work because the basket needs to be accessible at all times. It just does not work for my personality to have a big ugly tub sitting in my front room. (We shall not mention the big ugly cardboard box holding old photo albums that has been sitting in there for a month now). Because the basket is easily accessible at all times, one of the kids can fetch it and we can get some serious learning done.

How do we use the basket?

Well, friends, we simply read the books that reside inside of it. For example, each week we read more about our Classical Conversations New Grammar science and history sentences. We read daily from a Life of Fred book. We always make time for our read aloud. Devotionals are read while the kids eat a morning snack. And everyone loves a good science mystery.

Flashcards really only speak to the heart of one of my children but they are good for the brain so everyone gets a turn.

In 45 minutes (ish) we can cover a lot of learning ground and have some quality discussions. Perfect for those days when learning was low on some people’s list due to the fact they wanted to prioritize “whining”, “arguing”, and “temperature taking” as their top goals for the day.

Bonus: no one had to research “How to make lye soap.”

Do you have a homeschool basket? If so, what lives inside of it?


Radio Nowhere

Mamas with older kids, remember the witching hour when they were little?

That time between the hours of 4-6pm when nothing seemed to make their little minds happy and you could not wait to hear the sound of the garage door opening, signaling that backup had finally arrived home from work?

Those were tricky times, friends. I remember on the best of days when my two were littles and I would have a cute little craft and snack on hand to combat the witching hours. I also remember the days when they were crying and whining while I attempted to cook and clean and use the restroom in peace. Those were the days that even the lure of Disney Jr. would not settle their spirits.

We are past the days of the witching hour (although yesterday I swear both kids were a hot mess at 6pm. I blame playing outside for three hours straight and low blood sugar). Rather the witching hour has been replaced with mama’s taxi hour(s).

Now I spend the hours of 4-6pm (and typically up to 8pm) running mom’s taxi service.

Karate? Check.

Dance? Check.

Basketball? Check.

Back to dance? Check.

I drive one road in our suburbia multiple times a day in a span of 2-3 hours. I have threatened to become an uber driver just to make some money to pay for all these extracirriular activities to which I drive my kids to and from.

Recently I realized I was not making the most of this time. Sure I have conversations with my kids. Please remember that we homeschool and so we talk ALL DAY LONG.

That can be a bit much for the part of my spirit that craves quiet and alone.

So there are times that I say “Yes, you can flip on a movie.” or “Please listen to your music” so I can have my own time in the car. Also, I have learned that one is not too chatty after being in dance class for three hours. No need to force conversation. It will come when desired.

My answer to all this quality time spent in the car is podcasts. The great thing about podcasts is that 1. I can learn something. 2. The children can listen (at times). 3. It makes passing the same Chipotle four times in one hour a bit more bearable.

I know I am not the only parent blazing up the roads as I take my kids back and forth from various practices or rehearsals. For those other extracurricular activity road warriors (or perhaps for those who commute daily like my husband, bless his heart..and his car’s mileage), below are some of my favorite podcasts.



I cannot consider myself part of Genearation X unless I say I listen to Serial. I loved the first one. The husband and I are slowly making our way through the second.

For the sake of being truly transparent, I will admit that I thought it was a fake scenario the entire time we listened to the first episode of Season One (think Soap Opera on the radio back in the day). Fortunately my husband did not pack his bags right there and leave over that moment of airheadishness. Just in case you did not know, Serial is 100% based on real events. It is not child-friendly.

Dear Sugar

This is an advice podcast by Cheryl Strayed, of Wild fame. It is a fun one to listen to and I can often walk away (aka climb out of the family station wagon) with a nugget of truth for my life. Again, not child-friendly.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

Oh my goodness: I feel like if I bumped into Jamie Ivey in my local mall that I would speak to her like she is one of my closest friends.

Let it be known that I almost spoke to someone I did not know once in a creepy familiar way because I stalked her blog back in the day. So obviously I can have boundary issues with people I don’t know.

Jamie Ivey is from Austin and has this great podcast in which she chats with influential women. Because she is in the hip Austin scene she happens to know a lot of women. Jen Hatmaker fans will be happy to know that there are at least 4 episodes featuring Jen. This is a great, inspiring podcast for women. Typically it is child-friendly but one sometimes has to censor.

Also..if your kids are familiar at all with Pine Cove, they will flip out when the Pine Cove commercial pops on in the middle of the podcast. You will then have to pause the podcast to hear them regale all sorts of Pine Cove stories. See! Podcasts bring families together!

Read Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

If you are a homeschooler and have yet to read the book Teaching from Rest, open up a new browser right this instant and order if from Amazon. It will refresh the remaining school months left in this year and get you focused for the upcoming year.

After ordering the book, be sure to listen to the author’s (Sarah Mackenzie) podcast. It is simply delightful.

In all honesty, there is a podcast by a blogger who I adore that I simply cannot listen to due to her voice.  (No worries…I won’t divulge this blogger’s identity). It simply does not work with my delicate ears. However, Sarah Mackenzie has a delightful, soothing voice that is super easy to listen to and your children will enjoy it as well. She has managed to snag some excellent guests (Andrew Pudeaw is her first guest…in fact, the podcast origins are all because she asked him to be on her show that was non-existent when she made the request to his company.). This podcast is excellent for those times when you are making supper and the kids are playing and you need a few moments of encouragement while you stir the spaghetti sauce. Most likely you will want a piece of paper and a pen nearby while you listen: there are some great nuggets of wisdom tucked into each episode.

The PopCast

I love some good pop news/trivia and this podcast never fails me. Beware: If you happen to be listening to this while running on the treadmill, you most likely will laugh out loud at 5am and cause those near you to stare uncomfortably.

The Big Boo Cast

This, dear reader, is the first podcast to which I ever listened. It has gotten me through many a solo-parent Texas/Arkansas road trip. The great thing about the Big Boo Cast (hosted by mommy bloggers Boo Mama and Big Mama) is that one feels like they are simply listening to two friends chat on the phone.

And that phone conversation covers things such as the perfect mascara to writing tips to celebrity gossip, all with a touch of Jesus sprinkled all over it.

Again, delightful for the ears (Although the southern accents may be a bit too much for some, I find it to be a taste of home.)


Do you have a favorite podcast that helps you make it through a portion of your day? If so share so we can all make that one more trip to karate just a bit more manageable.


Also…I may have checked out tons of books on podcasting because I have this dream to create my own podcast. Stay tuned!



Daily Truths

What’s wrong?”

Why are you still in bed? Are you sick? Did the gym close? Is there snow on the ground?”

These are the questions I am peppered with if my children happen to stumble across me still in bed at six o’clock in the morning.

(I know…we are a “special” kind of family in which everyone in our house is typically awake by 6am. Bless us all.)

Their daily reality is that mama is up early and typically at the gym when they rise. I do not do this because I have some sort of sick personality that likes to be tortured in the wee hours of the morn.

Nope. I do this because I know what simple rituals make a day better for me.

In my case, I really need to be the first one up.


Blame this on my introverted personality, but I do not want to talk to anyone or see anyone when I get up in the morning. I relish the quiet and stillness of our home in the early morning. It allows me to deal with the chatter and business of the day later on as the house becomes alive again.

Early morning rising while everyone else snoozes is a daily truth for me.

Daily truths are things that I know to be true that make a day better for myself.

They are not flashy (i.e. having someone hand deliver a cup of coffee and a NY Times best seller to my bedside every morning) and hopefully do not impose on others (my children will tell you there are days when it is *painful* to wait until that clock reads 6:00 am to jump out of bed and start talking).

Rather daily truths are the things I recognize that need to happen (fingers crossed) to feel like I can take on the day.

That sounds rather dramatic, considering I lead a lifestyle in which I never fear for the nourishment or safety of my family, I do not work outside of the home, and I live on the border of one of America’s plushest suburbs. Middle class America is quite nauseating at times, is it not? Anyway, I regress.

Simple truths in our daily life allows us to see the core of ourselves. I know as a believer I live by the idea that the “joy of the Lord is my strength.” I also know that the Lord created coffee and that gives me a whole lotta strength to tackle the day.

So what are my simple daily truths?

  1. Be up before anyone else. Yep..this means I typically set an alarm on the weekends.
  2. Coffee
  3. Time spent reading in the early, quiet hours.
  4. Exercise. My body and its special circumstances requires it to keep functioning. My mind requires it to be a nice person.
  5. Greeting my family on a positive note each morning…even in those moments when #1 does not occur. I cannot feel at peace with myself if I start off grumpy with my people.
  6. Some alone time in the afternoon. We are busy and some days this really may just be ten minutes in my room with the door closed. It is necessary.
  7. Did I mention coffee?

As you contemplate your daily truths, ask yourself these questions.

How do I want to feel on a daily basis?

Be realistic. We cannot feel super excited and terribly happy all the time. That is called a “Disney World vacation” and we eventually have to return home to real life at some point where work and bills and flower bed weeds await us.  The body cannot run on full steam ahead- mode 24/7. Rather, ask if  you want to feel content? Peaceful? Calm?

What is going to get me to the point of feeling that above feeling on a regular basis?

This is where you identify your truths. This is where I start perking the coffee. How can you feel a reasonable amount of calm on a regular basis?

How can I make decisions about my daily truths based on my current situations?

This is where I set the alarm clock on a Saturday because I know I want to read in peace before my offspring shoot out of bed and start asking me what is for breakfast and do we have a plan for the day. If you know your daily truths, examine your situation and see how those can become a fairly normal reality. This is the point where you also have to be realistic with yourself. Want to know how to completely fail at daily truths? Setting the bar too high or setting expectations for yourself that are not going to happen. Be kind to yourself..that is the whole basis behind acknowledging daily truths.


Recognizing your daily truths means going to the extra effort to make sure life is designed to incorporate little things that make you feel good so you can be the best version of yourself.

Not the perfect version of yourself…because that simply does not exist.

Rather work on shaping a pretty darn good version of yourself through the identification of your daily truths as you serve your family and others and reflect God’s love and blessings back on his people.


Now it is your turn: What is your daily truth? Share…because I may want to steal it ;).


Library School: For those days when homeschool seems too much


I recently stumbled across a notebook in my garage, its pages filled with an abundance of notes about effective homeschooling. Because college skills die hard, I had dated these notes carefully.

(Let us pause and remember college in the 90’s when students had to take page after page of notes during lectures. There were no MacBook’s taking up space in the classroom or virtual lectures one could attend in their PJs.

Let us also pause and reflect on the fact that the husband and I just tossed our hundreds of pages of college and grad school notes about five years ago when we realized they were obsolete and Google could tell us everything we would ever need to know.)

These notes I came across were dated July 2015. It was during that time I attended a homeschool convention and was inspired to have the best homeschool year EVER! We would do lapbooks and notebook every snippet of history we read. Science experiments would happen weekly and artists studies would be a routine part of our school.

Some of these things have occurred.

But LIFE has also occurred.

February also happened, which all seasoned homeschoolers know to be prime burnout month.

A great solution I found to this problem of stale homeschooling and abandoned science experiment dreams was to do library school.

Library school is where we keep the curriculum at home, grab the library card and some pencils, and head out to find some education among the shelves of our local establishment. Each child was given a handout that had various subjects printed on it. For example, there was history, science, religion, poetry, math, and grammar. I also included sections that said “Interesting fiction book” and “biography that caught my attention.” Each of these sections had their own box on the worksheet. After a quick refresher course on the Dewey Decimal System, the kids were set free into the library.


Their instructions for the day: Find books for each of the categories. Read and examine the books (they were not expected to read the ENTIRE book…we had other things to do that day…but to read excerpts and sections that appealed to them). Then write down notes and/or illustrations from those books.


Later that night the kids shared what they had learned. In the course of about two hours they had sought out information about foreign languages that appealed to them, had brushed up on pieces of history that struck their fancy, and had learned some really great things on their own.

library school3

Library school cannot replace every day homeschooling but it can bring life back into home education. It shows children that learning and research is fun. Library school puts knowledge into the hands of the child. Rather than force feeding facts down a kid’s throat, the child is empowered to step out on his/her own and find knowledge for himself.

Another day of home education saved.



The Gift of Time on an Ordinary Monday


My daughter’s love language is donuts.

Who am I kidding…donuts are my love language too. (As is queso and coffee and pie…but I digress)

This morning I took her to grab donuts after my morning walk. The prospect of fried dough topped with chocolate and sprinkles put her in such a jolly mood that the girl managed to talk the entire way to and fro the donut shop. She was full of cute eight year old antecdotes and funny little stories. My favorite gem from this morning was her retelling of an article she had recently read in American Girl magazine (worth the cost, dear readers. Just FYI.). The story she recounted was about a little girl and her horse. The horse apparently had a severe allergy to grass.

Since this discussion this morning, I have had many, many questions about the horse with the unfortunate grass allergy.

Why was it allergic to grass?

How did they keep it from eating grass?

How does one discover a horse allergy?

The girl quickly tired of all my questions and reminded me that this was an article in a KIDS magazine, implying that the journalistic details may be lacking somewhat.

On this extra day of 2016 (Hello, Leap Day!), I have thought about that horse and its lot in life. Does he not get to gallop about in green pastures in fear that he may eat grass on a rest break? Is he destined to a life in a dirt field void of anything green?

This morning I asked my kids what they were going to do with the extra 24 hours given to them today. Were they going to spend it wisely or just treat it like an ordinary Monday?

We happen to be doing a bit of Spring Breaking this week (I know…its early. But we like to keep things a bit unconventional around here). The kids plans were to spend the day outside with friends.

Pretty perfect for an extra 24 hours when you are a kid…especially a kid growing up in a time of technology and hectic schedules.

We all want more time: more time to sleep, more time to complete a hobby, more time to just be rather than time spent running.

Today we have been gifted with the thing we all ask for: time.

Despite the fact that today is indeed a Monday, we have been given a bonus 24 hours. Sure, jobs still have to be attended and bills have to be paid. Laundry piles still accumulate and life still happens.

But today has a bit of magic attached to it, as we gladly take our bonus February day.

As for me and my extra 24 hours: I am spending time with my parents, soaking up a normal Monday hanging with them. I took a nap. I read a book that has absolutely no value or life-altering message. I watched a television broadcast with my husband…even though we are currently in different state.

And I pondered what life is like for the allergy-laden horse.

How about you? How did you opt to spend your extra 24 hours today?


The L Word


I hate the treadmill.

If our ancestors knew that we pay money to walk in place on a large, loud machine they would think the world had gone to hell in a handbasket.

(I love to use that phrase. I feel like it is very 1950ish of me. Also…everyone has been saying the world is going to hell in a handbasket for a good 75 years, so the punch said phrase is meant to deliver has lost a bit of its flare. )

Despite my hatred for the treadmill, I climb on the one at my gym every morning around 5am. I select a machine situated by the TV showing the local news, pop in my headphones, cue up a playlist, and start that ol treadmill moving.

Just like the days of yore.

Except my ancestors were likely hiking up a hill to fetch the morning eggs rather than walking in place on a mindless machine.

I hate the treadmill, but I love food and being able to fit into my current wardrobe, so I walk and run every morning.

The deal with this is just a year ago I could not run. Two years ago, I could barely walk. My time spent on the treadmill always reminds me how far I have come since the days after my surgeries and I am thankful for this mindless task I can perform at the gym each morning.

Because of these surgeries, I have become part of a unique club. I was actually a member of this club my whole life and never really knew it or understood my fellow members. This unique club is comprised of individuals like me: people born with cerebral palsy and living life with the effects of a disability. Through the wonders of social media, I am part of several Facebook groups in which I get to interact with others in this club. I see videos daily of kids who are rocking life as they fight for steps or sometimes even simple movements. I have met adults who although they share a CP diagnosis, they are moving mountains and not letting a physical disability slow them down in any way.

And so daily I get on that treadmill and I walk and run for those members in this club who unfortunately cannot do the same.

Seeing these individuals on a daily basis through Facebook and through their videos has made me painfully aware of something in our culture. It is the use of the word “lame.”

I have never used the word myself because it hit just a bit too close to home.

And quite honestly it faded from popular vernacular for a bit.

However, it has found its way back into mainstream vocabulary and I find it disturbing.

Thankfully we have reached a point when the majority of society has stopped using the words “retarded” or “gay” in a derogatory manner. We are fighting to end racial slurs and prejudices. As a whole, we have come to understand that when you use a word that represents a group of people as a way to explain something as being “stupid” or bad, you are insulting said group of people.

It is mean. It is hateful. It is unnecessary.

As a culture, it is time to add a new word to this list of words sitting in degrogatory banned camp. That word is “lame,” my friends. When something or someone is lame, that means he/she cannot walk. It does not mean that he/she is stupid or dumb or undesirable.

It simply means that an individual cannot walk.

Fortunately our society has graduated past the belief that disabilities define the person, rendering those with such issues as useless to the good of the whole. This advanced mindset should also spill over when we consider using words whose correct meaning explain race or maladies as a way to denote something bad that is going on in our lives at the moment.

If you are using such words or phrases, I implore you to take a minute to think of their true meaning and then apply that to how you are using the words in your everyday speak.

Then ask yourself how you would feel if a large portion of our society began using your name in a derogatory manner.

“That is so Sarah that you forgot to set the DVR.”

“That show is soooo Sarah. I cannot stand it.”

“Stop being so Sarah. You are getting on my nerves.”

(*Apologies to all Sarahs. It was simply the first name that popped into my head. There is a reason I write nonfiction as opposed to fiction: I am horrible at developing characters’ names.)

Not so fun, is it?

I am stepping off my soapbox now and climbing back onto the treadmill. That Valentines Day candy isn’t going to burn itself off my hips.

Be blessed, friends. Put love out there and not hurtful, mindless speak.

Reading Queue

I did not travel to England until I was in college. Apparently I also did not read much British literature before then either (other than Pride and Prejudice and I believe this predates Bridget Jones’ Diary) because I did not know that the meaning of the word “queue”. That first time I traveled to England (enroute to Kenya), our group came upon a witty billboard making a joke about long queues. Several people laughed and noted the wittiness.

I fake laughed, made a mental note to LOOK UP THE WORD IN THE DICTIONARY (obviously this was pre-Google days), and continued on my journey.

Now I jump at the chance to use the word queue anytime I can, especially around my international friends.

Because everyone simply loves the person who uses words incessantly and obnoxiously.

The biggest queue in my life could be the long line of books itching to be read.

If one thing can be said about the residents of casa de phillips, it is that we all adore a good book.

Every time the husband and I go into a bookstore (which is frequently. See above statement.), we often mutter the same thing as we leave: “So many books. So little time.”

I always have a significant stack of books that I am working my way through: fun reads, educational insights, parenting guides, and things I SHOULD read but may never get around to it because I enjoy junk fiction just a bit too much.

Currently my reading queue holds the following books:

The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson


Who does not want to be Sally Clarkson? Seriously, I feel like she could navigate the motherhood aspect of my life with much more grace than I ever can manage. I have been looking forward to the release of this book for quite some time.


Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch


This past weekend we had a family Valentine’s Day celebration. One particular child was not exactly in a celebratory mood all that day. Hello, Entitlement Generation! I fear the patterns of entitlement and priviledge we are passing down to our children, both knowingly (gulp) and mindlessly. Said child did opt to change that attitude when the choice of being perky and participating in the dinner I had planned or rather being sent upstairs with a piece of bread and peanut butter, a banana, and a glass of water for the remainder of the evening.

And I also informed the child I would eat his/her cupcake if the second option was needed.



Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purfoy


I have a secret desire to move to the Northeast. I know my Southern accent, proclivity towards a completely made-up face, and love of Rotel and Velveeta does not lend itself to a northern life, but it is 80 degrees here today, y’all.

In February.

In November when the rest of the country was experiencing Fall, we were still wearing shorts.

I cannot wait to dive into this book about one woman’s first year in a Pennsylvania farmhouse. Perhaps I shall read it while eating my chips and queso on my front porch in flip flops.



Y’all I simply cannot pass up a book about Nantucket. It all goes back into that east coast living thing.

Fates and Furies



I am plodding through this book right now. It was the Amazon Book of the Year and received tons of critical acclaim. However, the first part is a bit hard to follow and honestly reader reviews are not super favorable.

I have a system when it comes to reading books. I give the book until page 100. If I am not completely hooked or enjoying it, I set it down and move along. This may very well become the fate of Fates and Furies.


What is in your reading queue that you cannot wait to dive into?




Homeschooling Notebooks

There is a section of my bookshelf in which four years of lessons plans live. Why? I have not a clue. Perhaps I will look back on these longingly one day and remember the times we educated at home. Or perhaps my children will crack them open, inspect them, and then exclaim, “THIS is why I don’t know blah, blah,blah because it was never taught.”

Perhaps I should just toss those away right now, before more years of lesson plans can add up and fuel the fire of my adult children.

I have used many planners over the years and tried out many systems in hopes of keeping our schooling organized and streamlined.

I have purchased expensive planners, printed off Classical Conversations planners, inscribed the lessons on our school room’s white board, and scribbled down ideas on stray pieces of paper.

The thing that has worked the best and stuck with us the longest is the simple spiral notebook.


Yep…the handy little thing that one can find on the Target clearance aisles after the Back to School madness has settled down and all the homeschoolers begin to do their supply shopping.

Each day the children’s assignments are written down in checklist form. I do maintain a master lesson planner for my own sanity and record keeping. However, each child has their own notebook.

I write down their daily assignments, along with any chores or responsibilities they have to do that day.

Did you get that part? Their chores are written right beside “Math Lesson 62”. Gone are the “But I didn’t hear you say for me to make my bed” days because IT IS WRITTEN DOWN and YOU CAN BOTH READ!

Then the children simply dive into work.

(Ha! This sounds as if they are merrily humming tunes from The Sound of Music and being wonderful, pleasant people 100% of the time. They ARE pleasant people…but some days there is a whole lot of grumbling when they look at those notebooks. Just want to keep it real, in case you think we are all Merry Sunshine and Roses over here.)


Some of their homeschooling is independent work while other of it is group time or one on one time with me. If something does not get done or if we need to push something to the next day, the child simply does not mark it off their checklist. Easy-peasy. Also, there is no need for me to continuously tell someone to do something or inquire as to something’s completion. I can just glance at the notebook. (And hell hath no fury like a mama who spies a box checked that has not actually been completed. That has only been tried once and the child likely will never try it again. )

One child likes to get started FIRST thing (hello, 7:30am!) because she has realized the sooner she begins, the sooner she will finish and thus have all the play time in the world. The Homeschool Notebook allows for her to get a start on her day without me having to jump right in with her (I have to have breakfast cleaned up and a chore done before I can start my portion of the schooling. I just feel better when the house is tidy.)

If the lesson planning and record keeping side of homeschooling is making you feel like educating at home is not working anymore (*), get in the car, drive to Target, grab Starbucks (coffee heals all), and scoop up a pile of ten cent notebooks. Try this method for a few weeks and see if a bit of calm and organization are restored into your homeschooling.

If not, just drink more coffee.

(* There are some things that are true indications that homeschooling is not working and other options should be evaluated. Sometimes homeschooling does not work. And that is OKAY.  )

(** Homeschool Notebook is something I love to share with homeschool groups and communities. Please see my speaking engagements page for more details!)


The Game of Catch-Up

My kids get a kick out of this little corner of the internet that we “own”.


The name “Save the Phillips Family” makes them giggle…and then slightly wonder if they are now officially cooler than their mother.


Looking back on old pictures and funny family stories that are archived in this blog always leads us down a rabbit hole, making us forget the school work that sits before us as we laugh over preschool antics.

(The Holderness Family YouTube channel also provides a rabbit hole during our school day. As do Rotten History videos. Or any funny video involving someone accidentally tripping or an amusing cat. In all honesty, my kids heart a good rabbit hole.)


What have we been up to in this period of quiet?




A bit of vacay.

A lot more carpooling (I say “carpooling” but it is rare that I actually have other children besides my own in the car as I cart them to and fro. Suburbia provides for many things: fun friendships, endless activities, a Starbucks on every corner. But it does not really lend itself to an effective carpooling system when friends are scattered all about. )

Netflix binge watching




This is our fifth year of homeschooling. That blows my mind just a bit because these five years have passed so quickly. At the beginning of this year, I opted to try something different for our educational endeavors.

And it did not work out at all for our family.

We are back to the basics in what we know in regards to schooling at home and fixing things that became a bit bent last semester.

I am devouring this book and learning from it. The thing about homeschooling is that there are a lot of enthusiastic moms out there leading the charge when it comes to educating at home.

And there are a million ways in which homeschooling can be achieved.

Sometimes I find myself swimming in all these IDEAS that begin to drown me.

Lately we have taken in bare bones and are loving some of the things that are happening at home. More to come on this “bare bones” approach on the blog.



Carpooling…and more carpooling.

I remember thinking we were busy when the children were preschoolers. And we WERE busy..at home. Now I am busy driving.

I have told my mom many times over the past 2 years how thankful I am that she drove me places all the time as a kid. It did not seem like a big deal then for her to drive me to school, drive me home, drive me to swim practice, drive me to church because I did not realize that all that driving makes a mama a bit crazy.

Now I do, friends.

Now. I. Do.

There is this strip of road in our area of suburbia that I may drive up and down six times in one day taking kids to one place or another.

It is a blessing…a blessing to have a car, a blessing to have children, a blessing to be able to pay for extracurriculars. Yet there are days when I seriously wonder if I would make the evening news if I tucked my eight year old into an Uber and bid her a lovely night at dance.


A bit of vacay

animal kingdom

This year we bought into the hype: The Disney Hype. Honestly, I have been the hold out over not doing Disney. I felt like it seemed very commercial and I have a think about Disney Princesses and the COST. Oh dear, the cost.

We actually planned to do Disney the year I had my surgery and ended up putting it on the backburner.

This past summer we surprised our children with a Pirates of the Caribbean themed dinner and a scavenger hunt telling them we were going to Disney.

At the end of October.

It was a bit anticlimactic (hey kids! You get this really awesome gift…in six months) but I did not think we could pull off the whole “tell them in the car on the way to the airport” thing. This is mainly because they are with me 24/7 (for the most part) and planning for Disney is kin to having a second job (We did have the most amazing trip planner. Let me know if you need her name!).

In the end, the vacation was wonderful and we now understand how families continue to go back to Disney year after year.

We also spent some time at the beach before school was officially over last May. Hands down that is the best time to go…crowds are low, temperatures are warm, and prices are still reasonable.


Netflix Binge Watching

Over the summer the children and I spent a week in Arkansas so the boy could attend a robotics camp. One night I was talking with the husband on the phone and inquired as to what he was doing.

His reply was “Watching Netflix”

My reply….”When did we get Netflix?
Yes, casa de phillips had been Netflix free for many years. In fact the last time we had Netflix was when the DVD would arrive in the mail in that flimsy red envelope.

We are obviously super hip.

Anyway the husband began a free trail to entertain himself with The Walking Dead while we were gone that week. The free trail turned into “let’s get Netflix!” and now we are all binge watching something.

So much better than the flimsy red envelope days.


So there we are. What has been going on with you ?

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