{SQT} How to Get From Point A to Point B

Summer’s winding down but the Mantoan family fun just doesn’t stop! Next on tap, a sixteen hour+ drive to the Midwest to visit family and bust a move at a wedding. As you can imagine, I‘m knee deep in trip planning (I’d probably have an easier time arranging to drop Navy SEALS behind enemy lines), but I thought I could still share a few pointers with y’all before we hit the road. This week it’s seven tips for taking a road trip with your kids.

1.First, reconsider. Do you really need to take this trip? Is it something that could maybe wait until everyone is older and able to be financially responsible for their own plane ticket? Will you really let anyone down that much?

2. Don’t bother buying or making special road trip goodies a.k.a. bribes. It will only lead to your vehicle getting trashed all the sooner. And once your kids know you’ve got ‘surprises’ it’s all they’ll ask for until your supply is exhausted. You won’t be guaranteed more than five minutes of play value / peace until their curiosity pushes them to ask “Is that it? What else did you bring? This game/book/toy isn’t interesting. I’m bored. Give me a new surprise. Don’t act like you don’t have any more.”

We’re a lot closer to turning mommy into an alcoholic if that’s what you mean.


25 ways to disappoint your children while taking a road trip. Be sure to include only educational activities if you really want to hear them wail!

My kids all pack their own bags of activities, then, when everyone is bored, it’s not my fault.

3. Oh, you’ve packed snacks for the road? How cute. What are your plans for hours three onward once every morsel of food has been consumed except for the huge crumbs sticking to the carpet, walls, cup holders, etc.? Rest stop food will suck up a month of my husband’s salary if we’re not careful. This time around, I’m prepared.

Just be quiet and eat your oats kids!


4. You can’t pack enough paper towels. Last time I brought the Brawny lumberjack dude along and we were still cleaning up spills with someone’s socks by the end of the trip.

Forget the luggage. These go in the trunk.

4. And always plan on double the number of plastic bags for road sickness. Last time Fulton wanted a bag to spit into just because everyone else was getting sick. He had such a fun time smiling and pretending to throw up while everyone else was miserable and losing breakfast.

5. Yay for electronic devices for every child! And one lousy charger that everyone can fight over. I can’t believe I didn’t Amazon Prime this bad boy up. I guess we’ll resort to arm wrestling at rest stops to determine charging priority.

5. Try some fun car games like ‘I Spy’ during the brief spans of time when everyone is holding onto a thread of hope. Byron’s favorite game by hour six is called ‘Dead Indian’. “Okay guys, let’s pretend to be dead indians. First one to talk loses.” It’s great for like the 15 seconds that Teddy participates.

6. Make sure your vehicle is road ready. I mean, make really, really sure your car has good brakes, lights, tires, air conditioning, everything because in the middle of Indiana at 1:33 a.m. there’s no one to hear you scream. Except your kids…who are now all awake, and are hungry, and have to pee.

7. You’re going to stop every two hours for someone to go to the bathroom. Accept that as fact. Do not go over two hours. You will not make it anywhere but the narrow shoulder of a busy highway with a screaming child who just pooped their pants if you try to go so much as a minute past two hours.

I’m sorry, were you looking for real advice? From the master. How are you finishing up summer? Link up below and remember to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the quick takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

How to Write Your Own Lesson Plans, Part 2; Completing and Motivating

You’ve decided to write your own lesson plans! Good for you! If you’re this far you’ve probably already filled out a Course of Study for each of your students. Now you know what subjects and what materials will be covered for the year. Now the trick is to take all that information and break it down into smaller chunks.


First, make a note of what materials you still need to purchase or borrow from the library. You’ll need everything in front of you before you can write out your schedule. (If I’m using a literature book from the library later in the trimester, I’ll often just check how many pages it is on the library’s website or Amazon so I know how many weeks my child will need to read the whole thing.) Assuming you school for 180 days, or 36 weeks,  you’ll need to make sure you have materials selected to cover the entire year, and make notes about whether something will need to be stretched to fit or cut in parts to work with your schedule and overall goals.


For example, this is what I hope to cover this year in physics between four books with ‘The World of Physics’ being our spine. It probably won’t take 36 weeks, but we’ll move through everything and when we’re done, I’ll consider it a complete science course. I also have a physics experiments kit if the kids want to delve deeper.

I write out my assignments by week and since I discovered the format of the Ambleside Online curriculum, I’ve started using the ‘Table’ feature in Google Docs to type out my plans. I keep each child’s week on a different sheet of paper. My older students also get a copy so they can see what is expected of them in all subjects for the coming trimester.

8th grade

I created a new document and added one 9×8 table and one 7×9 table. Then I typed in Addie’s work. She also has her own planner to help keep track of assignment given by her teachers.

If you only have a few younger students, you may be able to include all their subjects on a single page.

lesson plans

Lesson plans from 2011-12. Two page layout for each week, with each days work written in and the family subjects on the side and bottom. Addie 4th, Byron 2nd and Edie in Kindergarten.



2012-13; three kids on one page with each days assignments written in. I used a teacher’s planner from Dollar Tree. Ultimately, writing in all these assignments by hand got to be too much and later trimesters were much less complete. Typed up, weekly lessons make things 10x easier on me.

Make note of any online classes start and end dates as well as breaks. Also note if a class continues while your family may be on break. Then plug into each square the work for each week.

4th grade lesson plans

What Edie’s trimester looks like.


Same goes for a daily schedule. If your family works on subjects together, they can be condensed on a page together as well.

school subjects

We do family work on Friday’s. Here’s what’s on tap for the fall. Whoops! Religion is blank! Please assume the best.

It all looks so nice and new and educational!!!! But now, how do you make your kids do their work???? Simple! Corporal punishments!


I find my kids work independently when I make it easy for them to do so. They each have a desk with supplies and they know where extra supplies are located. Their lesson plans are taped to the tops of their desks so they know what to do each week, plus each has a daily check list of tasks they must complete before they are allowed to use their electronic devices.

6th grade desk

Byron’s desk. You can see the daily checklist at the bottom. Sometimes if the kids are having a hard time remembering work, I’ll make them check subjects off with a dry erase marker.

Using a screen with incomplete work equals a loss of screen time the next day. It works great for us, but any consistent punishment for missed work could get the job done. If you really hate being a task master, out source the duty to an online teacher. Sometimes all kids need is someone besides mom telling them to get something done. As I mentioned in the previous post, I purposely pick work that doesn’t require me to sit and hover. I also allow my kids to watch Khan academy videos when they don’t understand a new math concept. Not hovering ultimately helps them learn to figure things out themselves.

When all you have are littles, it may seem like the day will never come when you won’t have to help with everything. To speed the process along, focus on reading, because once they can read their own instructions-BOOYAH! Also, have realistic expectations for the time your younger children spend on a subject. Addie in eighth grade can easily spend 45 minutes on math but I would never expect more than 25 from Fulton in second. Any younger and consider the preschool circuit idea for helping kids learn to sit and work from a young age.

Stick with your plans for a semester or trimester and then see what worked and what didn’t. By writing your own plans, you can make tweaks to help things run smoothly. I also recommend keeping previous years plans. I actually keep hard copies in a binder, but storing them online is fine too. Unless your children require very different materials, you’ll be able to reuse your plans down the road.

I think that about covers it. Did I miss anything? Do you think you could write lesson plans for your children or have you already found the perfect plans? Leave your questions and comments below! I will respond and update as necessary!

Summer of Psalms: Don’t Labor in Vain

Even though we officially went back to school today (without taking any cute pictures), it’s still technically summer. The temperatures are warm, the days long and now I’m just waiting for the crowds to clear out after Labor Day to make another “field trip” to the beach.

I’m happy to keep the summertime celebration going by participating in the Summer of Psalms Project spearheaded by Kristen at Vine of Plenty.

I was so excited when she asked me to participate because her goal of creating beautiful hand-lettered printables of various bloggers favorite psalms ties in nicely with my love of free hand-lettered artwork. Did I mention she’s created a beautiful free printable for me to share with y’all??


psalm 127

Click to download this image as a pdf!


I must be honest. When first approached, I didn’t have a favorite psalm I could rattle off the top of my head. I have several favorite passages that mention destroying enemies in various ways, but they didn’t quite seem like something most women would want to hang on their walls.

You have given me the strength of a wild bull, you have poured rich oil upon me.
My eyes look with glee on my wicked enemies, my ears delight in the fall of my foes.

Psalm 92:11-12

Oo! Or another good one!

Now God will strike you down, leave you crushed forever, Pluck you from your tent, uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will look on with awe; they will jeer and say; “That one did not take God as a refuge but trusted in great wealth, relied on devious plots.”

Psalm 52:7-9

So, after consulting with the hubs, I came across Psalms 127:1, which is familiar to me because I read it during Vespers from my Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It reminds me of the parable of the man who built his house on the sand.

 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.

Matthew 7:24-27

Today, as much as any time, our lives need a strong spiritual foundation. We can build a life filled with material possessions and notoriety, but it is as fragile as the house on the sand or the unprotected city. Without a foundation of truth, we are susceptible to an attack from sin and temptation that can potentially ruin our souls for eternity. In this day and age we need strength to do the right thing; a type of strength that we do not possess on our own.

This psalm, in only a few lines reminds me to keep my priorities straight, and to order my life in a way that insures future stability by doing the right thing today. I don’t skip Mass or postpone Confession until the future. I do it now because those graces insure I can make better decisions in the future. I don’t neglect prayers with the kids until some unknown time “later” because I’m tired or grumpy. I do it now, with God’s assistance, to help myself and my children through the day and beyond. I can always make a million excuses and continue doing frivolous things that need to get done, but ultimately I am laboring in vain.

We are constantly building and improving whether we realize it or not. Everyday, we add something to our marriage, our children’s hearts and minds, our friendships, etc. We can weaken these relationships with the sands of vice or build them strong with the stones of virtue.  If we choose to weaken these bonds, we shouldn’t be surprised when they collapse.

It’s an ongoing struggle. We can’t ever get lax in our efforts and assume that because we did something before or avoided a certain temptation once, it won’t rear it’s ugly head again. So long as we guard our souls and those of our family, the Lord has got our back with divine reinforcements. But once we start thinking, we’ve done enough, it’s good enough or we carelessly outsource our duties without oversight, we risk cracking the foundation we’ve worked so hard to build.

So it’s a brief yet gentle reminder that my work is never done. Is that too heavy a sentiment to hang on my dining room wall? Perhaps it will at least encourage interesting dinner conversation.

Be sure to check out all the Summer of Psalms printables over at Vine of Plenty. I’m thinking about getting a fancy clipboard to hang on the wall so I can rotate through some of the designs.

Let me know your favorite psalm below and whether or not you would like to discuss my selection over dinner and fine wine some time.

summer of psalms

{SQT} If You Can’t Feel Your Face, Seek Medical Attention

Seven speedy ones because it’s late, and I need to get to bed.

1. I started a series on how to write up your own lesson plans. The goal was to get part one and two up this week, but Teddy decided to start insisting “I’M AWAKE!” around four a.m. the last few days so blogging, like many other things cough personal hygiene cough, have been tossed aside in the weary stupor. I don’t even know what the deal with this kid is anymore. So anyway, part two coming early next week. In the mean time, check out some of my favorite homeschool posts from the past! #flashbackfriday

The Best Methods, You’ve Never Heard Of, to Occupy Toddlers During School (These also work if you’re just trying to make dinner or go to the bathroom alone.)
Planning to Prevent Burnout Now
Outside the Classroom: How to Find Your Homeschool Community
Your Child WILL Read
Learn From My Preschool Mistakes: A Letter to Myself
Homeschool Mom Crush

2. Even before Teddy’s night time antics, my sleep quality had taken a nose dive. I’ve been waking up constantly, tossing and turning, ruminating on whether or not tonight would be the night a bat would get stuck in my hair. With school quickly approaching I decided I needed to take better care of myself and set aside the diet of nachos, secret candy and ice cream hidden under a mountain of sugar cubes…or something similar.

I actually decided to complete another Whole30, sort of. It’s a Whole14! My husband jumped on board too, which is a huge help. It’s only been a few days, and I’m going easier on myself than the first time around which means I’m probably only consuming about 90% approved foods, but it’s way better than how I was eating. For several months following my first Whole30, I managed to make better food choices, but our crazy summer schedule means the only vegetable I’ve been consuming regularly is gummi worms. Yes, I’ve come to let myself believe that gummi worms represent a healthy food source. All the while telling my kids to please eat more fruit and “Stay out of the kitchen while I make dinner!” …and hide in the refrigerator devouring hidden chocolate.

3. Super cool and trendy ME went to a popular music concert last Sunday. Tony and I scored some free tickets from friends to what was considered the music event in South Jersey; Maroon 5 on the Atlantic City beach. I’m not the biggest Maroon 5 fan, but I was totally moving like Jagger the whole time until I’d dug my dancing self into a pit in the sand and required a beach patrol rescue. I only snagged a couple pictures because I was so busy enjoying the show / moving mountains of sand with my toes. But there were some people around me recording the show on their phones the whole time. Why would you come to a live concert just to stare at your phone screen??? I’m going to assume these are the same sorts of people that actually enjoyed the Nick Jonas opening act.


4. Speaking of pop music, can someone please explain to me this song about not being able to feel your face? That is not an expression of love or physical attraction. It’s very likely you’re suffering from a stroke and should seek medical attention.

6. I finished reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

In a nutshell, it describes how making gut decisions can actually be a good thing and how gathering tons of information can sometimes hinder our ability to make the right decision or, surprisingly enough, cause us to make the wrong one. He also talks about what causes us to make bad decisions under pressure. Fascinating stuff, but pretty sure I’m going to second guess all my decisions from here on out.

7. I did my second ever radio interview last Friday with Leticia Ochoa Adams of The Ramblings of a Crazy Face on Real Life Radio. I love that those of us who were trying to grab 40 blessed minutes of sleep during the live broadcast can listen to the interview as a podcast!  Thus far, my limited podcast and radio engagements have not been as terrifying as I imagined. I haven’t uttered an obscenity or accidentally revealed embarrassing or private information….that I recall. If you have a podcast or radio show and want to listen to me yammer on about sleep deprivation, popular music, homeschooling, SMA or this nasty scar on my knee that I got from just bumping into my couch the wrong way, drop me an email! I’m on a roll! #kellyforpresident2016

Be sure to link up your takes below and please include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes! I look forward to reading your posts!