Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries: A TOS Crew Review

Flourish Book Review
Flourish Book Review
Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries - $15.00
This is one for moms. :) 

Flourish Book Review
Yeah - a gem for busy, multi-tasking, almost-to-the-end-of-my-rope mom!  I'm excited to be the tester at Bentz Test Laboratory for Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries.  

I've been homeschooling a long while now (heading into year number 13...) and I have yet to be disappointed by any product from Apologia Educational Ministries!  
Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms  is written by Mary Jo Tate.  She is another veteran homeschooler, educating her four sons since 1997.  After reading this book, I feel like we sat down together over a cup of coffee (usually next to me as I read) and she shared from the wealth of her years of experience.  Her easy-to-read, conversational tone makes you feel like you have a trusted mentor by your side.

This 289 page, softcover book features the following chapters:

  • An Invitation to Flourish 
  • Change Your Mind to Change Your Time 
  • The FREEDOM Toolbox 
  • Where Did My Time Go? 
  • Aim High: Setting Goals What Do I Do Next? 
  • Seven Essential Planning Tools 
  • We Interrupt This Program It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment
  •  Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days 
  • Training Your Children
  •  Making Memories
  •  Managing Your Home 
  • All of Life is Learning 
  • Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom 
  • Home Business
  •  Moving Ahead

Right off, Mary Jo Tate shares her story - a "typical homeschooling mom, married with four sons". But, her story just begins there - her life took an unexpected turn, and she found herself a single, homeschooling mom, who also had to earn a living while educating her boys.  If all I had read was her story, I would have been encouraged!

However, her story is just the beginning of this encouraging book.  After being asked numerous times "How Do You Do It All?" - Mary Jo Tate turned her life experiences into a practical, hands-on approach to help moms find strategies to help them Flourish - whatever life may throw at them.

Each chapter is short enough to read and digest in one sitting.  In fact, she encourages you to "Take Action" at the end of each chapter by evaluating and planning before moving forward.  Several thought-provoking questions will help you pause to reflect.
One of my favorite take-aways from this book came from the "Change Your Mind to Change Your Time" chapter.  After evaluating where my time is going, using the handy "Time Log" in the appendix, I discovered many areas I could improve on.  The appendix has many useful planning forms, and you can even download them to print out.   But, for me, the "A-ha!" moment came with her statement - "find peace in the space between the ideal and reality."  So often, I am focused on the ideal, overwhelmed by how far the reality is from it, that I am almost paralyzed into doing nothing.  Her gentle reminders to accept a compromise, make time for the important things and focus on life management to find a real balance, were just the wisdom I needed to hear most! 
Flourish is just the kind of book every mom should read this summer.  It is filled with the practical suggestions we need.  Many of these ideas I have heard before - and you may have too, but - this book is a great reminder of the importance of our days and making them count. 
Another great idea - the "Stop Doing List".  I am a compulsive list maker, and the idea of making a list with what we are going to eliminate from our schedule was a very freeing concept!  Editing my life to make space for what is truly important. (seems to be a reoccurring message... God must be up to something big!)
I love that this book is filled with inspirational quotes, and plenty of testimonials from other moms, just like me.  A new favorite I need to share:
"How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?  How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?  No.  A woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute." -- G.K. Chesterton
In addition to chapters helping you Flourish with your time, Mary Jo offers plenty of useful and practical suggestions to help you get control of your home, homeschooling, and even child rearing advice. 
It's really like getting to sit down with someone who has successfully navigated this path, and have them answer your honest questions.  From - "Why homeschool?", to "How do I teach responsibility?", to "How to I start my own business?"   I can truly say, this is a book I'll open over and over.
So, if you're tired of just getting by, and ready to Flourish - you'll want to pick up your own copy, brew that coffee, and enjoy sharing the journey with Mary Jo!
One more quote (I love them so...):
"You as a homemaker essentially create original artwork.  Your family has never existed before and will never exist again.  Every day you paint another memory in their lives" - Dr. Mary Ann Froehlich

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