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Things I Love

Periscope, Things I Love

Things I Love: Periscope Edition

My first periscope was done on a whim on September 18, 2015 after Julie Bogart’s periscope challenge to show our “enchanted spaces”.  I decided to take up her challenge and I grabbed my phone to show our mess enchanted space.

At the time, I had no idea what an amazing tool periscope would become for me.   It has changed the way I learn about science, the world, and homeschooling.  I continue to be very involved in the periscope community.  If you are interested, you can follow me there (or on your app @notbefore7) and join in the fun!

I admit that here have been a few purchases made in this house specifically because of my love of periscope.  Therefore, this edition of “Things I Love” is dedicated to the wonderful world of periscope.


1. Spiral Bound Notecard Set.

My first purchase was a set of basic spiral bound notecards to display important websites that I mention when talking on a periscope.

My own website is listed on the first card and then sites I mention frequently come next. Any site I mention can be included on the list quickly and will remain there for reference in the future.

2.  Tripod.

Eventually, I got tired of propping my iPhone against a stack of books. I didn’t invest in anything fancy, but I purchased a pretty basic tabletop tripod. It does the job and keeps my hands free and the phone steady.

3.  Burts Bees Lip Balm.

Let me be honest here.  It can be tough to stare at yourself on your iPhone for 20-30 minutes during a periscope.  You begin to notice things about yourself that you normally don’t notice.

Like your lips that suddenly seem so pale.

My first attempt to correct this issue were the Burts Bees Shimmer Lip Balms. I grabbed one in Fig and kept it downstairs where I often periscope. It worked perfectly.

Until I began to notice some of my friends going for bold lip colors on periscope and I decided to try a more bold lip approach, which brings me to my next purchase.

4.  Lancome Lip Crayon.

I was never much for bold lipstick in my everyday life, but boy does it make a difference on the screen!

So I went off to the local Ulta and bought a bold lipstick.  I selected this Lancome Lip Crayon and it is perfect.  It is slim and fits in my purse or in a bin with my other periscope equipment.

Best of all, I love the name: Only Wine Will Tell. Brilliant.

5. Rectangular Storage Bin.

I keep all of my periscope equipment together in a cabinet: lipstick, tripod, and notecards. The next purchase on my list is this bin. I am tired of the lipstick rolling around on the shelf. This bin will hold them all and fit nicely in my cabinet. When it is time to periscope, I can just grab it! Voila!

How about you? Do you periscope? Have you made any purchases for it?

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Games, Homelife, Things I Love

Favorite Family Card Games

Our family loves to play games. Card games. Board games. Video games. We are cool with all of it.

But times are a changin’ in this house and my teenagers have outgrown the entertaining games of the early years.  And I can’t say I miss most of them.

Yet, there is still a 7-year-old in the house and we don’t want to leave him out so we have to find games that work for everyone! Continue Reading

Adventures/Travel, Things I Love

Things I am Loving Right Now: Car Traveling Edition

Many of you have been following along as we travel across the US in our 12 passenger van.  We are having a great time touring places like the Grand Canyon, Zion Nation Park, and Antelope Canyon.

Inspired by our current travel here are things I am loving right now!

Things I am Loving Right Now: Car Traveling Edition

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They have changed the way I will pack forever.  I blogged about our plan to use them before our trip and we have had to modify the plan somewhat, but the ebags are the BEST thing we have ever bought for travel.  They will change our camping, family visiting, and trips for the better.

Four of us have the three piece packing cube set.  My younger two boys each have one large eBag and we are making that work.  We have one large eBag for swimsuits, goggles, and sunscreen as well.  In the future, I will purchase another 3 piece packing cube set for my boys as well!

2.  United States Sticker Map.

Although this is advertised as an RV sticker map, we attached it to the back of our van to record our cross country travels.  Each time the van enters a new state, we add the sticker.

Each time we add a sticker, we record the fun:

This sticker could be kept at home, on the car, or on a piece of posterboard. It is pretty versitile and we LOVE it!

3.  National Geographic Guide to Naitonal Parks of the United States. (8th Edition).

I got tired of returning this to the library and requesting it again. I also wanted to write in it. So I finally gave in and purchased it.

It has been handy during our trip.  I might be old fashion, but something about having paper to take notes, underline, and write on works best for me. I can look up the park a day or two before we get there and make some notes about what to do if we have a few hours, a full day, or a few days. This guide has been really helpful.

NOTE:  This was SO helpful when we went into a park after hours when the visitor center and gate were closed and we couldn’t get a map.  This book has updated route maps so you can still get around to overlooks and trails.

4.  Sabrent 10 port family USB charger.

Yes. We are a modern family. This is the charging port we have in our charging station at home, and when we travel we make sure to bring it.

I love that it sits flat and the ports are on the top, not the side. It works well for overnight charging in hotel rooms. Currently we charge 2 phones, 2 iPods, 2 Kindles, and 2 iPads each night. Every morning the devices are charged and ready to go.

We also use it in the car, keeping it plugged in to my next item…

5. Car Power Inverter Strip.

This strip has 2 outlets for standard plugs and 2 USB ports. We keep our USB Charger plugged in to this while driving so our kids can keep their devices charged while we are travelling.

Once plugged in, the kids keep the USB charger toward the rear of the car for their devices so the extra USB ports on this main outlet are handy for the adult phones in the front seat.

Note:  I travel for long trips with my kids frequently.  We visit family in both Maryland and Florida and we love to take trips around the US.  There is NO reward at the end of the trip for keeping your kids off screens, so we don’t limit their use at all.  We still listen to audio books, play games, enjoy scenery, and have pleasant conversation, but this all happens naturally as we travel.  It is rare that I force “no devices” though it does happen sometimes.  Therefore, #4 and #5 are some of my favorite additions to our travel supplies.

6. Rand McNally 2017 Midsize Road Atlas

(spiral bound preferred for me).

We lost our modern day GPS through Waze and Google Maps quite a bit while traveling around Utah.  My daughter had this atlas in the car and it was SO handy to double check our route.

It was also handy to print pages for the kids so they could follow our trip.

7. Next Exit

This amazing guide crossed my path AFTER our big road trip.  In it you will find the most amazing comprehesive directory for interstate highway exits.  The gas, food, camping, shopping, and lodging available is listed next to every single interestate highway exit.

This could totally change the way you plan to stop for lunch or bathrooms because now you know what is around the corner at the NEXT EXIT!

What are your favorite Cross Country Travel Items?

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Adventures/Travel, Blogging, camping, Homelife, Literature, Things I Love

Things I am Loving Right Now

In case you are wondering, here are five things I am loving right now.

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1.  A mobile macro lens for my iPhone. Amazing. Entertaining. Somewhat magical.  And all of that for $10.  This little lens wraps around your phone with a rubber band and instantly equips your camera phone with a handy macro lens. 


If you are a family that has adopted nature study as one of your family or educational goals, then this is a must have. If you are a parent who just needs some entertainment for the kids when camping or in the backyard, then this little lens will fit the bill!

PicMonkey Collage

Heck, my kids were entertained in our car ride. Give them each a set time with the lens and let them loose!

2.  The Magical Clariol Root cover up Kit. I used this kit for the first time on Monday night after it was recommended by a lady in the Walgreens.

Her hair is professionally dyed at the salon, but she swore that this kit was a sure fire way to prolong the time in between visits.

Now, I dye my own hair, but it is getting to the point where I HAVE to do it every 4-5 weeks or a stripe of salt and pepper hair appears. It was pretty obvious in my mother’s day photos, so I decided to give the kit a try because dying my hair is a royal pain. Here is the evidence of the before shot:


Oh my goodness. SO easy to use. Very little mess. It was so much easier then dying my full head of hair. And the results were great.


Now I can wait a few more weeks before I have to break out the big guns and dye the whole thing again.

3.  Srsly Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone. Oh my word. This book is hysterical, enjoyable, and witty.

My daughters and I have read this Hamlet book cover to cover and they are begging for more.  These titles are both part of the OMG Shakespeare series of books.  

IMG_5521I have my eye on the MacBeth and the Midsummer’s Nights Dream.  Oh let’s be real.  I want them all.  In fact, during our recent trip to the History Museum in downtown Raleigh I bought YoLo Juliet.  I had  three kids staring at me (ages 13, 11 and 9) who were BEGGING me to get another one of these books for our collection!

Who am I to refuse them some Shakespeare fun?

So I took a few moments to preview the “wedding night” in YOLO Juliet.  It was mearly a “check in” by Romeo and a mention of  “tonight was great but it’s morning…” so I let them get it.

BUT, that being said, let me give you a heads up that PARENTAL DISCRETION is advised.  These are not books for little kids.  I have only read the Hamlet book and perused the YOLO Juliet title.  While reading Srsly Hamlet, both of my girls seemed to gloss over the word “horny”, either understanding it without my knowledge (quite possible) or assuming it was a Shakepeare term that they didn’t know.  The abbreviation WTF is used in YOLO Juliet as well as the poop emoticon in a way that clearly means sh*t.

So while I am comfortable discussing this things with my kids and letting them read these books.  PLEASE use your own discretion.  You may want to hold off a bit if your kids are young.

IMG_55244.  Kids Travel Journals from Hearth Song.  We are about to travel from Raleigh to AZ and UT for some fun adventures.  Because she is excited for us and is and amazing Aunt…my sister ordered these journals for my kids and they are fantastic.  Best of all, for our situation, they are set up for a big one trip experience.

The beginning pages give you space for recording where you are going and who is coming.  Then there are pages to list your daily intinerary,
IMG_5526providing up to 14 days for you to fill in.  Our trip is exactly 15 days, so we’ll skip one of the boring travel days in our itenerary!

There are fun games to play while you travel, daily pages for recording experiences, and fun prompts to fill in throughout. We will be filling them in on Monday to get ready with our itinerary, which should help the kids get prepared and geared up for our adventure out west!

5.  Frixion erasable colored pens.  I love love love these pens.  They have been a fun edition to end our school year with something new.

I plan to start off next school year with a few fresh colors for the table.  They make erasable markers too.  It’s like magic.

WARNING:  The writing from these pens will disappear in the heat.  DO NOT use them for precious memories like travel journals.  We use them for school work.  I was tempted to use them for our journals until a follower on periscope warned me!  I pass that warning on to you.

What are you loving right now?

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