Good Things in 2018

I did something this year that was new for me - making a list of the good things from the year.

As I made the list I knew I wanted to share a few good things with you. (They can easily be good things for you, too!)

My good things do include some THINGS, but there are also good practices, habits, experiences, and people.

The good things range from teaching your children to read and learning Calculus, to making sure YOU look stylish.

As a homeschooling mom I have learned it is important to remember YOU. We must feed and nurture ourselves. We must appeal to the sense of wonder and beauty within ourselves if we are to nurture that in our children. So this list includes a lot for the moms - and a few things for teaching the kiddos, too.

Our favorite things - for moms and kids - in 2018

I’m going to jump around here a bit - I’m sure there will be at least one GOOD THING here you’ll want to try!

Stitch Fix

I wanted to try Stitch Fix for a few years. I bit the bullet in 2018 - I stopped shopping a lot in regular stores and decided to invest in a few well made and styled pieces from Stitch Fix.

I have truly LOVED my Stitch Fix selections. They are unique, stylish, and fit me very well (I always have trouble finding flattering pants and dresses - Stitch Fix has solved this problem for me!). I have the best fitting pair of jeans I have ever owned, and several functional pieces for my wardrobe.

I’ve received a couple of jackets that I have been able to wear during ALL seasons.

And, I love wearing dresses, and my stylist sends me the cutest ones!

Stitch Fix has been worth EVERY PENNY - I shop less, look better, and actually think I might SAVE money because I am not shopping willy nilly at places like Target, TJ Maxx, and Kohl’s.

(My husband even ordered a Sttich Fix box in October and kept everything! For him this is HUGE!)

The Library & The Goodreads App

Because reading is such an integral part of my life, I have gotten quite attached to my local library - AND using the Goodreads app while at the library.

I keep track of everything I want to read (and have read) through Goodreads.

I use the online library hold system liberally.

When I visit the library I can pick up books I have reserved. As I am browsing in the library I can also use the SCAN feature in Goodreads to scan a barcode of any book, see its user rating, and add it to my “Want to Read” shelf.

I’ve gotten my son to start using Goodreads, too. He loves to read series, and he can keep track of what he has read, what is recommended to him, etc…

And here’s a REALLY good thing. When I am feeling like I (or we) need a little escape I go to the library. I can spend a lot of time just browsing the shelves and adding books to my Goodreads app. I have learned so much this way! I’ve also gotten to know the librarians well and get a lot of good recommendations from them.

Shormann Math

My youngest just began using Shormann Math in the fall.

He had always used Saxon - it just WORKED for him. Truth be told, it was still working for him, but I anticipated he would need a bit more direction and test prep as he worked his way through the upper levels of math.

After a lot of research we decided upon the Shormann Algebra 1 With Integrated Geometry Self Paced Course.

It has been an excellent switch for him. As a parent I love the format - he watches a video lesson and is encouraged to actively take NOTES. He then completes the practice problems and after that is complete he can see if he got them right or wrong - and watch a video solution for each problem.

There is also a Quizlet set so he is constantly learning and reviewing the GRAMMAR of math.

Shormann Math goes through Calculus, which is also something we were looking for.

This math has been a GOOD THING for my son (just like Mr. D Math was a good thing for my daughter!).

All About Reading

Yes, I know my children are older - but I need to include All About Learning Press here. I WISH I had used this when my children were young, and I love seeing their materials now and watching other families I know use them with so much success.

This consistently came to my attention in 2018 - so it made my good things list.

I’m in the process of reviewing Level 2 - and it’s exciting because it is their new COLOR version.

(Could I please adopt a gaggle of little ones so I can teach them to read? Fun!)

I know this program works with ALL TYPES of learners as well. Two friends of mine have dyslexic children and use this program with great success.

All About Learning also supports its users with so many free resources. If you don’t know much about them, this is a great place to start.

Free Resources

Good Skin

(Told you I was going to jump around a bit!)

Because I am in my late 40s, my skin is starting to show its years.

I feel more confident when I don’t look tired and worn out. This year I’ve been working on taking excellent care of my skin.

Earlier this year I received a sample of Vasanti face wash in an Ipsy box. I used the trial size quickly and decided to get a full size product from Amazon.

I use this 2-3 times each week. It noticeably brightens my face and also makes me FEEL brighter.

Reading Time With My Teen

Oh how I have been treasuring read aloud time with my 14 year old son. (Yes, he is 14 and still enjoys being read to. I’m hanging onto this!)

Each morning during breakfast we have a devotion, listen to our SQUILT LIVE! calendar music, and then read aloud.

Our five favorites:

Wednesday Wars

Ok For Now

Huckleberry Finn

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

The Graveyard Book

Book of the Month

You know I’m a reader, so I love my Book of the Month subscription.

I can get the latest in good books at a discounted rate and I can earn free books when I refer friends.

My favorite book of the year through BOTM was The Clockmaker’s Daughter, by Kate Morton.

I sometimes fall down rabbit holes when deciding which book to read next, and having that ONE pick from Book of the Month each month helps keep me on course. It’s also fun to interact with the #botm community on Instagram.


I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of a vibrant, supportive homeschool community.

This hasn’t always been the case, so I consider myself blessed to have found my people.

This has been a VERY GOOD THING in 2018.

We share educational ideas, parenting ideas, prayers, heartaches, praises, and so much more. I learned sometimes it might take a few years to find this type of community, and if you can’t find one - be intentional about starting one yourself.

I watch the spirit of the parents reflected in the children, and it warms my heart to see children caring for each other and lifting each other up. What a blessing this is for all of us.

Homeschool Community - a good thing in 2018


We found ourselves committing to more driving this year because of sports for my son. The sports have been SPECTACULAR for him, but I needed to find a way to adjust my attitude about the amount of driving (and waiting) I was doing.

I had always thought I didn’t like audio books, but once I began listening to them I was WRONG.

An Audible subscription has been good for me - as I keep up with what my kids are reading and also as I read some things just for me.

Five favorite audiobooks from 2018:

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Amos Fortune: Free Man (the narrator on this one is incredible!)

The Library Book

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Mere Christianity

1 Second Everyday

I’m cheating here.

This is technically a good thing for my 17 year old daughter, but I am going to do this in 2019.

She uses 1 Second Everyday, an app that chronicles your entire year. She began using this app in January and took a one second video each day within the app. Each month she would show me her 30 second video of the month.

Now she has the best record of her year - and she has inspired me to do the same for 2019.

If you have a teen I bet they would love it, but adults love it, too!

Plan to Eat

This tool is something I consistently recommend to anyone who will listen - especially homeschooling moms who have so much on their plate. Organization is my Achille’s heel, and this meal planning and grocery shopping tool truly helps.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

I have been using this for seven years and cannot imagine life without it.

Plan to Eat allows me to save recipes online, create a meal plan, generate a shopping list, and share recipes with friends. I can easily save a recipe from any website and I can also enter my own recipes.

There is also a very handy app for when I am in the grocery store, or just needing to look up a recipe.

This is seriously A GOOD THING.

Our lives are full of GOOD things, and I am thankful for the chance to look back and record mine, and now share them with you.

Did you have a GOOD THING from 2018?

Share it with us in the comments below!

Maybe it can become a good thing for someone else in 2019!

10 Favorite Books of 2018

I was browsing the discount book section of a store (one of my favorite past times) the other day. As I was intently examining the cluttered shelves , a woman approached me and said, “People think I have a problem, but I just LOVE looking for books. My kids don’t understand why I buy books and then just put them on the shelves without reading them - and I can’t really explain it to them. I just like doing it.”

My response to her was this -

“Books represent a world of possibility when I look at them. I love having lots of possibilities in my life. Keep buying those books!”

In that moment I forged a connection with a total stranger.

Reading has dramatically changed my life over the past two years. When my mom passed away in the summer of 2016 I lost my best friend - and gained a large chunk of time. At the same time, I was a full-fledged mom of teens, which meant they spent less time needing (or wanting) my attention.

To put it bluntly: I found myself more alone than I had been in a long time, and I had to do something about it!

Reading books helped me escape to different worlds while I was grieving. Reading books became a way to fill the time I had normally chatted with my mom on the phone. I committed to a robust reading life - not only for the betterment of myself, but also to become a better homeschool parent.

The time you spend reading is not wasted. I encourage you to carve time out of your schedule to READ. It is of immense value to you and your children!

10 Favorite Books of 2018 — for moms!

In 2017 I committed to read 50 books.

2018 brought increased reading enthusiasm and MORE books completed - 102 to be exact - and while it isn’t about the number of books I read, it IS about the knowledge I gained, the friends I made (I even started my own #bookstagram account!), and the beautiful hobby I continue to cultivate.

To put it simply,

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.
— JK Rowling

I joined the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and a local book club. I was honored to be selected for the I’d Rather Be Reading Book Launch Team.

Favorite Books of 2018

Any time we visited a new city I went to their best bookstore. I found myself haunting our local Goodwill and thrift stores.

I hung out at the local library just for fun.

I became the book recommender and lender for many of my friends.

It was a GREAT reading year.

Ten Favorite Books of 2018

It was an arduous task to narrow the list to TEN favorite books, but I’m confident and pleased with my choices. After the ten favorites, I have also included the list of all of the books I read in 2018.

They are ALL worth reading (with the exception - in my opinion - of The Handmaid’s Tale - which I read out of curiosity - and did not like at all), because I have no qualms putting down a book I am not enjoying. Life is too short to read books that don’t resonate with you!

My favorites quite obviously reflect the genre I enjoy most (historical fiction), but I did enjoy The Library Book and Fearfully & Wonderfully Made (nonfiction).

Cold Sassy TreeThe Library BookMark Of The Lion Boxed Set-3 Bks (Repack)A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)Amy Snow: A NovelBefore We Were Yours: A NovelThe Remains of the DayBecoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. LewisFearfully and Wonderfully MadePeace Like a River


All Books Read in 2018

I tried to read across all genres and get out of my comfort zone in 2018.

This list also includes books we read aloud in our homeschool - something I adore doing.

I hope you can find some books to add to your 2019 reading list!

Cold Sassy TreeThe Library BookMark Of The Lion Boxed Set-3 Bks (Repack)A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)Amy Snow: A NovelBefore We Were Yours: A NovelThe Remains of the DayBecoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. LewisFearfully and Wonderfully MadePeace Like a RiverThe 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas MiracleThe Great Alone: A NovelGirl in the Blue CoatOne Day in December: A NovelA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses: A feel good Christmas romance novelThe Spectator Bird by Stegner,Wallace. [1990,4th Edition.] PaperbackA Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918A Grief ObservedThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Brave Art of Motherhood: Fight Fear, Gain Confidence, and Find Yourself AgainA Fall of MarigoldsOne-in-a-Million BoyThe Graveyard BookAs Bright as HeavenThe Clockmaker's Daughter: A NovelThe Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell: A NovelThe Undoing of Saint SilvanusThe ImmortalistsOur Beating HeartsSmall Great Things: A NovelEndurance: Shackleton's Incredible VoyageThe 49th Mystic (Beyond the Circle)The WilloughbysA Place for Us: A NovelLabor DayThe Handmaid's TaleCrazy Rich AsiansThe Widows of Malabar Hill (A Mystery of 1920s India)Garden Spells: A Novel (Waverly Family)Same Kind of Different As MeThat Kind of Mother: A NovelI Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with DeathA Well-Tempered Heart (Art of Hearing Heartbeats)The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A NovelA Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s WorldI'll Be Your Blue Sky: A NovelThe Almost Sisters: A NovelAn Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and MadnessThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called EelThe Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-DiscoveryLittle Fires EverywhereThe Mothers: A NovelThe Bronze BowThe Beach HouseBreaking Stalin's NoseThe Stolen Marriage: A NovelPeter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (Peter Nimble Adventure)Truly Madly GuiltyUnwritten: A NovelWhat I Saw And How I LiedMy Name Is Lucy Barton: A NovelAn American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection)Bel Canto: A Novel by Ann Patchett (2001-05-22)Listening for LionsEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A NovelHome Fire: A NovelWinter in Thrush Green (Thrush Green, Book 2)A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True StoryThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Tom Sawyer's ComradeBeartown: A NovelTell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to SayStay with Me: A novelThe Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your KidsThrush Green (Thrush Green Series, Book 1)Lilli de Jong: A NovelEvery Note PlayedWhere You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions ManiaMalagashEducated: A MemoirConsider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical TraditionThe Rosie Project: A NovelThe Music Shop: A NovelThe Giver (Giver Quartet)I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred RogersBeautiful Ruins: A NovelNearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing WellBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand AloneMrs. DallowayDeath Comes for the Archbishop (Vintage Classics)Gift from the Sea: 50th-Anniversary EditionThe Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of DistractionWinter GardenWe Should All Be FeministsThe Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel


I’d love to know some of YOUR favorites from 2018.

Share them with me in the comments below!