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The Weekly Ramble

The weekly ramble: where I blog like it’s 2004.

The Weekly Ramble | Life as MOM - European travel with six kids and getting back in the swing of things

Guess where we’ve been? Several of you suggested that we recreate our Eiffel Tower picture of long ago, so we did last week on our last day in Paris. We climbed to that second level observation deck with the kids and then shot out to the Champs de Mars to take pictures.

I showed this picture to friends earlier this week and many commented about how romantic it was. While FishPapa and I had a great time — and even got in a dinner date in Paris — it wasn’t exactly “romantic” as far as vacations go. When you’ve got all the kids in tow and you’re tired and overwhelmed by cultural differences, getting through the day without mishap is a major achievement. There isn’t always time for wine and roses.

Actually, on those days, there is always time for wine.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a fantastic trip. But, as with all things on the internet, you need to know it wasn’t all rainbows and pixie dust.

But it was good.

On our last day at the Eiffel Tower, we also took pics of each of the kids. Like this.

eiffel tower boy

Not everyone had the exuberant smile that this child put on for his mother. In fact, we were close to mutiny with one child. Very, very close, but we all escaped without tears or repercussions. It did, however, prompt me not to attempt a family photo, so we don’t have one. Bummer!

Again with the real life. 😉

I know that I’ve talked about family travel for a full month now, so I don’t want to press my luck on another week’s worth of posts. That’s like watching your Great Uncle Joe’s slide show of his vacation to Las Vegas in 1972. I’m really excited to share our trip with you, so I’ll be peppering the posts throughout the next couple months. We learned so much!

I have so much to process about life in another culture, parenting, eating, and otherwise enjoying the good things in life. I’ll be sharing all that in the context of stories about this amazing monthlong trip to England and France.

gargoyle

In the meantime, I would love to get your opinion on something. As you know, I’ve been at this blogging thing for 6+ years. A lot has changed since the start. I’ve tried really hard to share practical help and real life experiences. We’re all in this together, you know? I found friendships on the internet that have lasted longer than some of my dishes.

I think I have a good sense of what you like to read, what prompts you to comment, and what helps you. but sometimes I’m wrong. So, if you’ve got a minute to chat, I’d love to hear from you.

  • What do you like about Life as MOM?
  • What would you like to see more of?

I want to keep this a place where you are encouraged and helped. So, let me know how I can do that?

Thanks!

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Comments

  1. I love the weekly ramble, I love real life!

  2. My very favorite thing is the weekly ramble but I also love any household or organizing tips.

    • I see a theme here with the weekly ramble. 😉 Do you think because it’s “old school” or just more straightforward? Do you ever click on the links in the weekly roundups as well? That is to say, are they useful?

      • I like the ramble because I enjoy getting a glimpse into the “real” life you and the kids live. Also, I am sort of old school anyway, being a 58 year old Grammy.

        I do click on the links. They’re usually informative and/or entertaining.

  3. Charlotte says:

    While my kids range from 15-5 this is only my second year homeschooling. I would love to here more about your experiences. I was totally unprepared for the negativity we would hear from other people and how they felt about it. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion. Thank you for being real 🙂

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had such negativity. It can really vary, but I imagine that it might have something to do with the fact that you pulled them from a different type of schooling. People tend to get defensive because they think you’re rejecting them, not just choosing something different than them.

      That said, a monthly homeschool post is now on the list. 😉

    • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

      I don’t homeschool but also love to read about your experiences. I think it has helped me to be understanding of it so I’m not one of the negative people that make moms feel bad about their choices. I love to learn about others perspectives.

      The only ones I skip are the booking it posts. Mostly because I have little time to read and my existing list of what I want to read is already overwhelming!

  4. I enjoy your recipes, pictures of what you’ve bought at Trader Joe’s, and the weekly ramble.

  5. I love the reproduction Eiffel Tower picture! So much life lived between those two photos. My husband & I have been married for 21 yrs and have 8 kids. Life sure isn’t what I thought it would be–it’s better (even though it’s crazy and a lot of hard work). God is good. I, too, love your homeschooling and weekly ramble posts.

  6. I enjoy your blog, but I’d really like to see more of your blog – back in my feed reader! I don’t have time to click to all the blogs I read, so those that truncate rarely get read anymore (unless they’re really interesting – like this post was). Thanks!

    • I know. The truncated feed is a pain. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. It became an integrity issue for me, though. That’s really the theme of a lot of my blogging decisions. I’ve tried not to “go commercial” as lots of my peers have done, but at the same time, need to find ways to pay for all this.

      I couldn’t continue linking to Amazon affiliate links without truncating the feed. And honestly, we need the money that those links generate. Thanks so much for your support. I appreciate it!

  7. As a mom of five little ones 9yrs-almost 2, I glean so much from your journey ahead of us!

  8. I appreciate that you are real and don’t just share the “pixie dust”. I enjoy the variety in your posts. I skim your booking it and appreciate it as a sound reading resource for when I’m looking for a good book. Also skim the recap – usually just make sure I haven’t missed something. Thankful your family had a great trip. You’re know in the third stage of your trip – the memories! Thank you, Jessica, for blogging. I look forward to your Life As Mom and GoodCheapEats posts.
    PS Also thank you to FishPapa and FishFamily for sharing you & supporting your blogging efforts.

  9. Jessica, your blog is my favorite. I love how you keep it real, use your own voice, and offer a variety of posts from homeschooling to cleaning/organization to recipes etc… And I always love the weekly ramble too. I don’t comment a lot but I want to more often- you are putting in the work and I reap the benefits! So I want you to know I appreciate that. I have used and enjoyed countless recipes, and last year I made my own planner following your advice. I always meant to take a picture and post it but never got around to that. So I’m sorry about that. But seriously- I feel like you are my online mentor! We are Christians too, homeschooling with a 5yo, almost 3yo, and 8mo, so I often glean wisdom from your experiences. I so much appreciate your honest approach to serving and enjoying your family to the glory of God. And i like to think we would be friends in real life. 🙂 Thank you again for all you do!

    • You just made my year! Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad to know I’m on the right track. Thank you for your encouragement!

    • I ditto all of this! Thanks for all the great content! I like weekly ramble best. I like that you’ve got the Good Cheap Eats posts in it as I don’t look at that blog as often.

    • I agree 100%! Your blogs are my favorite and I’m so glad you’re back home safe and sound! Keep up all the good work and thanks for “keeping it real!”

  10. I always look forward to the weekly ramble, too, but I enjoy and read almost all of your posts. I find it encouraging and inspiring to see how another mom is organizing, homeschooling, menu planning, saving money, etc. And I love the recipes! I made your slab apple pie to take to our friend’s house last night for dessert. Everyone loved it! I agree with Cameron–you seem like the kind of person I could be friends with in person. Thank you for all the work you put in to your blogs.

  11. I like your weekly ramble, posts on homeschooling and most especially, the posts you write to encourage those of us who are behind you in the parenting/homeschooling journey. 🙂

  12. You know what I think, but just to say it again…. I like everything, just keep it simple, keep it real and keep it you! Jen

  13. Great picture – and yes, there are times trips turn ugly – or trippers do – at least for a little while 🙂

    As for your question, I’m torn. I generally do not like the groups of links to old posts as much as more cohesive new material. However for newer readers, or those newer at this life LOL, I think it’s really useful kwim? So I don’t think I would change that. The weekly ramble is always fun because it’s so direct and personal and I feel like I know you all [want to come hang our, see the atlantic and take the kids to manhattan?] and I like hearing about what’s going on, and what’s challenging you and how you’re thinking of tackling it – because I too have older kids and there aren’t a lot of blogs that address that in my experience [because we’re too busy driving LOL]

    The travel series has been great for me, because I travel some, and plan on doing more – and learning from you is interesting 🙂

    Honestly? I just looked back through the past few months of posts on the site – most of it was interesting to me – some of it wasn’t really relevant. But they were certainly relevant to many of your readers . . . I say you’re doing great – wish I had something more constructive to say!

    • Thanks for such insightful feedback. Yes, the older posts made new are for newer readers. There’s so much content in the archives that it’s a shame to bury it. I’ll try to make them a little more sparkly when I bring them to light.

      I would love to come hang out with you and tour Manhattan! Our family spent a day with Jennifer and her family on our trip. (Commenter above you). It was one of the HIGHLIGHTS of our trip. Every kid and parent said so. People make the place. More on that soon.

      Thanks again for the great encouragement.

  14. Jessica, I came to your blog after seeing you in Redbook. I cut out the article years ago to give my inspiration on taking my four children traveling for cheap.

    I came across the article again and saw your website and have just started visiting this week. I homeschool my 4 kids too. So I would love to hear more about that from you.

    We are also wanting to take our children to see the world. We are planning on Europe or Asia this year or early next year. There are not many people who take bigger sized families on big trips. I would love to hear all about your trip. I was sad to hear that you are going to pepper them in through the next few months. I was hoping to learn from your experience.

  15. Yours is one of the few truncated blogs in my feeder that I just about always click through to. I’m not sure why – I think I just really like your writing style

    • I know the truncated feed is a pain. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. It became an integrity issue for me, though. I couldn’t continue linking to Amazon affiliate links without truncating the feed. And honestly, we need the money that those links generate. Thanks so much for your support. I appreciate it!

  16. I am fascinated at how you feed your family so well, with such variety, IN California and on a budget!!!! I would love to attempt a copycat shopping trip of one of yours and follow your personal menu plan. I know I could do better than I do with our meals but for whatever reason I always overspend and still seem to have “nothing to eat!”

  17. I really enjoy the menu planning/recipes (yes, I follow you on good cheap eats too). I also like the organisational tips and most of what you post in general. The travel series has been excellent – several posts have been pinned for future reference! Not too fussed about the book posts – not everyone likes the same kids of books :).
    I like the weekly ramble as a little window into others’ lives – everyone has ups and downs, I love that you don’t sugar-coat it.

    Keep on keeping on – each thing you post helps someone, somewhere!

  18. Melanie A. says:

    Yours is one of my favorite blogs! I love the weekly ramble, because like others have commented, it seems to be more laid back and YOU. I love your writing style, and I love to read about homeschooling, frugal living, and life with a large family. I love your posts about all the teeny details of life, like how to keep up with laundry and the house while juggling homeschooling.

  19. I love your blog! I appreciate how real and down to earth you are with your readers. I really like all aspects of the blog…menu planning, home organization, recipes, homeschooling, booking it. You come across as a girlfriend of mine instead of the perfectly perfect mom. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us. I have been reading your blog for about 4 years and learned so much. Unfortunately, I don’t comment often enough. Also, I love your freezer meal cookbook!!

    • Thank you, Sarah, for your steadfastness. I appreciate that. If you can’t comment, sharing a post with a friend is good, too. I would love to grow my audience organically, meaning folks who like it bring more folks who’ll like it. Thanks for your support!

  20. I love the weekly ramble. I love that so many bloggers are getting back to “real life” type post. That is by far my fave. I also really enjoy reading about how you do things or why you do things (laundry, cleaning tips, that kind of thing). The trip planning has been helpful as I’m trying to plan a pretty big trip next summer with 3 kids under 5, just saying it scares me still. So, some practice flying advice would be great, like how do you get in/out of the airport with luggage and small children.

  21. I love your weekly ramble as well( and pretty much everything else!). I think your weekly ramble posts give you some “street cred” for all the other recipes, ideas, homeschooling things, etc that you post. You show us that life isn’t always perfect but that there is joy in the journey. I think that is something that keeps me plugging along, knowing I am not alone in this fight called motherhood!

  22. Martha Harris says:

    I was drawn to your blog because of your classical bent on homeschooling, but I’ve continued to follow it for about 2 years now. I love the movie and kids book recommendations. Because of you our family is hooked on Andrew Peterson and have read many of the chapter books on his site, rabbit room. I like the simple crafts and recipes. I don’t always have time to read the blog, but when I do I enjoy it.

  23. Sherrie Roderick says:

    Yours is by far my favorite blog. I am a mother of seven and we adopted our three grandchildren. Your blog is the best. I have started freezing meals, which gave me such a sense of accomplishment! Seeing that full freezer was such a blessing. We home schooled my middle daughter and she is now a sophomore in college, so I enjoy hearing about your homeschooling experiences. I love all the travel information and can’t wait to see more about your trip.
    I never knew about the passport info, the Army always handled that part. Day trip packing was great I have learned a great deal here and I am 51. Keep up the great work. Thank you for sharing and for caring about what we like!!

  24. I have been reading your blog for around 4 years, it continues to be a favorite of mine. There is seldom a post that I don’t click to continue reading. I homeschool and really appreciate your homeschool posts. I enjoy your writing style and you are source of inspiration and reality on the home front for me. I refer to your booking it posts often when I’m looking for a book to read.

  25. My favorite posts are the ones involving groceries, frugal living, homeschooling, organizing, and of course – the weekly ramble! I would also love to hear more about how you are choosing a college for your oldest, since we will be doing that same thing in the next few years.

  26. I think you already have a great mix of practical tips and parenting advice, plus inspirational stories. I really enjoy the blog and go to it frequently for advice on how to manage the day-to-day of staying home with my little ones! Thank you, Jessica!

  27. Rebecca Scott says:

    Your blog is one of my favorites and one of a handful I read every day. I don’t comment often but I truly feel like your blog is a valuable resource. My children are younger (5 yr old and 3 yr old twins) but we are Christians and just started homeschooling, so I love those posts about homeschooling and your weekly ramble the best. The only posts I really just skim through are the book it and that is just because I don’t have as much time as I’d like to read for fun these days.

  28. I’ve been reading your blog for probably 4 years or so now, which hopefully indicates that I like it. 🙂 For the past several months I haven’t been reading it nearly as much, but it’s me, not you. 😉 Life’s just been extra busy and crazy, and I got “lazy” about clicking through to your posts from my email. I do sometimes click through from Facebook. Honestly, it feels a little sad not keeping up with your blogs more, kind of feels like a friend and I have grown apart a bit. 🙁 If I were reading any blog right now, it would be yours, and I hope things are calming down enough soon that I can jump back in more. My least favorite posts are the booking it posts because, as someone else commented, my own to – read list is too long already and not getting any shorter. The travel posts are not relevant to me currently, but I can see that they’d be very helpful to lots of folks. I like the weekly ramble and just about everything else you write. Thanks for blogging. 🙂

  29. I enjoy being along for the ride and the fact that you keep it real. The weekly ramble is my favorite, but I also like the posts where you share where you struggle, the journey to being debt free and your ministry. I personally can’t wait to see all the posts about the trip. The pic of your 7th grader just made my heart melt. What a beautiful spirit he has!

  30. I have been a reader here for at least 3 years now, I think. I came over from a post from MoneySavingMom originally. Like many others have already said, this has become my favorite blog and one that I check frequently. I am not a homeschooler, but I often thought about it when my children were younger, and I always implemented summer school and reading challenges during the summer. Now that my kids are in high school, they have summer assignments already with the AP/Honors programs. I really like the variety and the simpleness of the blog. I appreciate that, although there may be affiliate links, it’s not flashing across the screen at me constantly. It’s a relaxing place to come and learn something new, a new way to do something, or just encouragement that lifts me up. I love the variety of posts, and I often catch up on a few at a time. I’m not sure that I can pick a favorite.

    I also visit Good Cheap Eats and appreciate so much that you share your recipes with real food with us. As a mom who has to cook around food allergies, I have said it before and will say it again, I can easily modify your recipes. I also love the meal plans and grocery lists. In fact, I came here to look through them to do my meal plan for the week. I have bought your cookbooks, and I bought one twice so that I could have it on the iPad in the kitchen with me!

    Thanks for what you do. Look at how many lives you have brightened! 🙂

  31. I love your blog! The variety, wisdom, experience, humour and honesty combine to make your site the one I visit the most. I think the best posts are the ones where you share how you have dealt with a particular problem – like the process of deciding to sell your rental house.
    I’m glad you had a good trip! I live in the Isle of Man which is in the middle of the Irish Sea and was a little nervous you would have awful weather as its pretty autumnal this way now, but it sounds like you had fun! X

  32. Maya Andrews says:

    I can repeat what most commentators have said. I love your blog and it is the one I share when I tell someone about “mom blogs.” I enjoy booking it and have read a number of books from the posts. I like recipe posts, family stuff, reminders to be joyful and enjoy what I’ve got.

  33. Love this blog!!! Love the meal planning and recipes (I follow both blogs!) Keep it real! Maybe posts about your cleaning style although typing that I remember the zone posts so duh you go over that! I love reading about crazy life with large families and making it work. Thank you for your time and energy put into this blog, it shows and is very much appreciated.

  34. I really appreciate your honesty. You show us who you really are and that includes the ups and downs. I am a recent follower of both of your sites, and I sometimes just appreciate the real moments you share. We can all relate to the struggles and the joys with busy lives and little ones to care for. Keep on keepin’ on!! And thank you!

  35. I’m sure you have your reasons, but I would love if you went back to full posts in the reader instead of having to click through. I used to read every post, but now I probably only click through for half or less. Love your blog though! I have been enjoying the traveling with kids series!

    • I explained it in a few comments above. The short story is that it’s against Amazon’s terms of service for me to use affiliate links anywhere other than the blog. So, if I go back to full posts, I would have to stop linking to Amazon affiliate links. Since the income generated from those links keeps this site going, my hands are kinda tied. It’s an integrity issue for me. Some bloggers just go ahead and break the rules, but that’s not how I like to roll. Hope that makes sense, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

  36. I always enjoy reading your posts. I like the homeschooling/organizing posts best. I’ve enjoyed the travel posts, since that is something I do quite a bit off and on. (Currently in Ethiopia for a month!) The thing that I enjoy the most about your blog is that you are real. I feel like I can relate to the things you share, and would have fun talking in real life. 🙂

  37. I enjoy your blogs. I read them both. Several of your recipes have become staples in my house, and I’m not sure what I used to make before I started reading your blogs! I don’t make every recipe, but I enjoy some. One thing I really appreciate about you and your blogs is that I feel like you actually read the comments. I know this because you have responded to various questions or comments throughout the years. I always feel like I have just gotten a ,essays from someone famous, so it’s cool to get a response, but very practical to get answers to questions. I see several comments on recipes on Pinterest where people have asked questions years ago and have never gotten a response… I enjoy your blogs about books. I love to read. I was a high school English teacher for a couple of years and then have gone on to be an elementary school librarian. I don’t know the age level very well yet, so many of your posts about what your kids read and enjoy are helpful. I look through your book it posts, but honestly haven’t read many of them so far. I don’t necessarily need any of the info on traveling at this point… (I would just like to make it to the Ocean!!) but it has been fun to read about your venture over yonder! I always really enjoy your encouragement in your posts about taking tome to enjoy things in the here and now. I think some of those are what got me started reading your blog. Like several others, I feel like you are a friend, so it’s fun to keep up on you and your experiences with your kiddos. My oldest is almost 15, so you are just ahead of me in the parenting thing, so it’s good to see how others do this.

    • Thanks for noticing! I do try to respond to comments on a regular basis, though sometimes it takes awhile for me to have the time. Like with the 175+ comments in my inbox from when I was on vacation. Ha!

  38. I have been reading your blog for about four years, and I really like the inspirational type posts. They really help me keep my sanity sometimes. I only have three kids, 6 and under, and I feel like reading your blog is like having a more expirienced mom friend who really knows what she’s doing…thanks for answering comments and emails. (I was so excited when you answered an email I sent you, I was jumping up and down. My husband thought I was nuts. :P) keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for your kind words — and for being such a loyal reader! Never say “only three kids” – there’s no size that isn’t easy and challenging in its own time. Three is just right if that’s what you have. 🙂

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