Are they socialized?

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Oh, you homeschool... are they socialized_ _They haven't peed on the floor and nobody has been bitten so yeah they are socialized_ (1)

Ugh, the dreaded socialization question. While I enjoy talking about homeschooling the one question I abhor is whether or not I socialize my kids. The answer to this question is always a polite yes and I explain how we are engaged in community activities and that we attend church where the kids belong to a youth group. The response I often want to give is not as polite and sounds something more like “well they haven’t peed on the floor recently and nobody has been bitten so I think they are okay”.  I swear one of these days this will be the response that accidentally slips out when asked this frustrating question.

What exactly is socialization? The definition from Merriam Webster basically states that it is a process where individuals learn how to interact in society observing societal norms. Why do people think that the only way to achieve this process in children is to have them immersed in a traditional brick and mortar institution? I agree that children need to learn how to act appropriately in society. This is why we take our kids out into the community to learn how to behave in a variety of different venues and how to communicate with not only their peers but with all people. I disagree that “schools” are the only place where children can receive this type of education. In fact I am not sure how well schools do in this area but you won’t catch me asking a public school mom if her child is socialized.

All parents not just homeschooler’s need to take an active role in teaching their children how to interact and communicate in society. I have had moms ask me the question about socialization while their “socialized public schooler” has her face buried in a phone in an attempt to avoid any and all interaction. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to behave through dialouge and by modeling the correct behavior. The issue of socialization needs to be addressed by all parents not just those who homeschool which is why I find this question so frustrating. Perhaps, the reason today’s society struggles so much with “appropriate” behavior is because the vast majority of children are not being taught by their parents how to behave and communicate.

I am confident that my children are learning how to behave in society and that they will one day be productive adults. Each one of my children is able to make friends, communicate with people of all ages and they all behave well in public. To be honest this is a realtively easy thing to instill in children who are homeschooled because we do not have the issue of peer pressure to deal with and thank goodness. Are homeschoolers unsocialized? No they are not, this is simply a misconception and a negative stereotype often used to undermine the decision to break away and take a different path in educating our children. Instead of undermining eachother lets have a real dialouge where we discuss and learn from eachother how to raise children into productive members of society. That is a conversation worth having!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Shopping on a Budget

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This time of year can be stressful for families as Christmas alone can create a bit of a financial burden. Even families like my own who keep things simple and work with a tight budget can feel that pinch. Every year my husband receives a bonus the second week of December and we use this bonus to not only help with Christmas expenditures but also to catch up on bills. This year the bonus has been delayed and at this point in time we are unsure if the bonus will be given out at all. This situation has definitely made things more difficult but I refuse to allow this bump in the road to derail my Christmas spirit.

I had to adjust my Christmas list a bit and I added a few more homespun gifts into the mix to help make our budget stretch. I hit my local Once Upon a Child ( children’s resale shop) where I found quite a few gifts for my little ones which has helped with my budget. If you are feeling the pinch this Christmas and you are worrying about how to make gifts happen for your kids I encourage you to check out your local resale shops. It is amazing what you can find when you dig a little, for instance, I found a beautiful doll chair for my daughter. This chair is  made from solid wood and after a quick swipe of furniture polish this second hand piece is like new and I know my daughter will enjoy it for many years to come. I found this chair on the back of a shelf covered in dust with a $10 price tag. I found similar chairs online priced for $90 so this was a great deal. I also found unopened packages of Shopkin sets for $2.00 which again is an amazing price.

I think that a lot of people overlook the value in secondhand stores for Christmas presents but you can find a lot of gently used items at great prices. Over the years my kids have received these items and they have loved them just as much as the brand new store items. Another great way to keep your Christmas budget on track is to make some of your gifts by hand. This year I am crocheting hats and scarves for my kids and I know they are going to love them. Over they years I have crocheted, sewed and put together gift baskets of baked goods and they have always been appreciated. In fact these gifts tend to be my favorite to give because so much love goes into making them just right.

Don’t let financial stress steal your Christmas spirit. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend or what fancy new toy is under the tree. In the end what matters most is sharing the true meaning of Christmas with the ones we love the most. It’s the memories we make with our friends and family that are the greatest gifts of all and the ones that will be the most treasured.

 

 

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How do you handle financial stress around the holidays?

Cookie School

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I know that I have mentioned this before but one way to get kids excited about learning is to incorporate food. I love getting my kids in the kitchen because there are so many learning opportunities available. Reading, writing, and arithmetic can all be taught while preparing fun meals and/or baking scrumptious desserts. I have unofficially enrolled my kids in “Cookie School” without them being aware that our baking sessions have really been learning labs. Here is how “Cookie School” works for us…

•First I present a recipe for them to read and then I ask them to write down the ingredients required.

•Once the ingredients have been written down they work together to collect the ingredients and bring them to the table.

•I will present the kids with the measuring tools they will need but I never give them the exact measuring cup. Instead, I will give them a 1/3 cup and 1/4 tsp. The reason I do this is so they have to use their math skills to determine how to turn the 1/3 cup into a cup and the 1/4 tsp into a full tsp. ( I switch up the measurements with each recipe)

•Then they will prepare the recipe according to the written instructions and preheat the oven for the cookies.

•Now it’s time to bake our cookies while practicing kitchen safety.

Sometimes I will take these learning sessions a step farther by giving them an approximate value of each item used in the recipe and ask them to determine the cost of each cookie. This is a great way to get them to understand basic home economics which is a valuable skill for when they become independent adults.

“Cookie School” is not only a great way to learn but it is a lot of fun especially when you can celebrate the end of the lesson with a freshly baked cookie. If you haven’t gotten the kids into the kitchen yet this is a great time to do so and below you will find a link to some of my favorite cookies.

 

All Recipes- Peanut Butter Cookies

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/10275/classic-peanut-butter-cookies/

 

Sugar Spun Run- The Worst Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever (best cookies ever I promise and the article here is so fun to read)

https://sugarspunrun.com/worst-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

My Sequined Life- Italian Anise Cookies

https://www.mysequinedlife.com/italian-anise-cookies/

 

 

 

My kids are in the slime business

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Message_1544283394928Recently, my kids took one of their favorite past times and turned it into a money making business. They played around with a slime recipe until they found one that made a slime that wasn’t too slimy and not too rubbery. One of the issues they discovered is that while slime is fun to play with it doesn’t smell good so they added scents, foam balls and a variety of glitter to make it extra special. I was pretty impressed with the product they had created and I hate to admit this but I found myself playing with their slime on more than one occasion.

They decided that they wanted to sell the slime so they could earn some spending money so I found a local craft show where they could set up shop. My role in all of this was simply that of an investor. I invested about $45 for supplies and their spot in the craft show with the understanding that they would need to pay back the loan with their profits. It was pretty exciting watching my 6, 8 and 12-year-old figure out the best way to run their business. In the beginning, they started out trying to make slime in large batches but eventually adopted an assembly line. One person would make the slime, the next person would knead it until it was no longer sticky and the last person packaged the slime. In a week they had made about 100 4-oz containers of slime and then they began to work on their sales pitch.

Yesterday, we loaded the car up with slime and took it down to their first ever craft show. I was so impressed by how well they did not only did they do a great job setting up their table but they were active salespeople. Whenever someone passed the table they would invite that person over to touch or smell the slime. We heard a lot of parents say absolutely not stating that “slime” had been banned in their household because it was too messy. My oldest began countering back that the messy part had already been taken care of and that their kids could enjoy a finished slime product. This ended up being the winning sales pitch as many parents double backed and purchased a few containers to take home. Many kids also stopped by the table on their own to buy slime and other vendors and crafters began to take notice. By the end of the day they had sold most of their product and after paying me back had a profit of $90 to split between themselves.

It is truly amazing what kids can do when you encourage creativity and give them a little freedom to experiment. From this experience, they have learned firsthand how to run a business, market, and sell a product. I know that these skills will serve them well in their future endeavors. I am truly blessed with wonderful kids and I am one proud mama.

 

 

The Grinch v.s Ebeneezer Scrooge

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It is a family tradition in our house to read both The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I love both of these stories and I am very proud to have both books in my personal library. These are two books that in my opinion should be a part of every parent’s personal library because they teach important life lessons. If you don’t have these on hand but want to incorporate this lesson with your kids check out the resources below to find the stories online for free.

Typically, we read and discuss these stories separately but this year we are doing things a bit different. This year we are going to tackle these books together comparing and contrasting the books as a whole, the main character, and lessons taught by each story. Below you will find a list of questions I will be asking of each of my children to answer. I think that these questions will help them flush out both stories and really dig into the transformations taken by both of these incredible characters.

The Assignment: My oldest will be answering these questions and turning it into a five paragraph essay while my youngest two will be creating a story plot worksheet for each of the books.

 

How are Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch similar? How are they different?

 

How is the setting of each story similar? How are they different?

 

How does the Grinch change in the story and what caused that change to occur?

 

How does Ebeneezer Scrooge change in the story and what caused his transformation?

 

How are the life lessons in both stories similar and/or different?

 

Which story do you personally feel did a  better job teaching the lesson?

 

What did these stories teach you?

 

Additional Resources:

https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/story-plot/

http://web.mit.edu/tere/www/text/grinch.txt

https://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Charles_Dickens/A_Christmas_Carol/

 

 

 

Best way to start the day!

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We have all heard the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I remember rolling my eyes when my mom used to announce this fact every morning.  While I may not have fully appreciated this when I was a child my mom was right and breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. Not only is it the best way to fire up your metabolism and create the energy you need to tackle the day but it also sets the tone for the day.

In my family, I have noticed that a quick breakfast of cereal leads to a lack of energy, chaos and emotional breakdowns all day long. Some days the quick breakfast of cereal can’t be helped but the majority of the time we slow down for a nice hot breakfast. Having a hot breakfast of waffles, eggs or even oatmeal sets the day up much better. We have the energy, the patience and the motivation to get through the day and we are much more productive individually and as a family. I am not sure if it is the food itself or that a hot breakfast sets a slower pace and allows everyone to wake up gently. Whatever it is I like starting the day off with a hot breakfast. One of our personal favorites happens to be the waffle recipe I share below.

If you are rushing through life and slinging bowls of cereal every morning and noticing the same thing I did with my kids then I challenge you to institute a hot breakfast. I know how busy and hectic life can be and the idea of waking up 15 mins early to make the hot breakfast seems like torture but I guarantee you will reap the benefits all day long.

 

Quick Tip:

The Waffle Recipe I share below calls for buttermilk and I rarely have this ingredient in my fridge. I learned that you can substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a 1 cup measuring cup and then filling it to the top with plain old milk.

If you’re out of milk you can substitute buttermilk for sour cream.

 

Super simple

Baby, It’s Crazy Outside!

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A radio station in Northwest Ohio recently yanked “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” a song written in the 1940s that has become a popular Christmas classic because it supposedly promotes rape culture. If you haven’t heard this song it is a romantic skit involving a couple enjoying some time alone and the hour is getting late and the young woman announces that she needs to go not because she wants too but because she is worried about impropriety. The gentleman uses every excuse he can think of to get her to stay a little longer and in the end, he convinces her to stay. He doesn’t physically force or coerce her to stay and in fact, the tone used throughout the song suggests that the woman is enjoying the attention and open to staying.  When you look at the history of the song it was written by Frank Loesser and he wrote this for his wife and they performed this song as a duet, it was meant to be a love song.

This song has nothing to do with rape culture and it doesn’t illustrate a sexual assault. This song is really nothing more than a window into the past illustrating the societal norms applied to young men and women of the day. While I don’t believe in censorship I can list quite a few modern songs that have offensive lyrics that promote violence and sexual assault but no one is going after those songs. What is happening to this world we live in? We live in a society where people are okay with casual sex, abortion, and violence towards those they disagree with yet a Christmas song written 74 years ago triggers outrage.

The real problem here is that society has gone crazy. The feminist movement is no longer about gaining equality for women it is about stripping men of their power. As a mother to boys, I worry about what the future looks like for them. Do I have to worry that their first kiss will be classified as a sexual assault? I sincerely hope not but if we keep going down this path I am afraid that this fear will become a reality. All I can do is raise my own children to be respectful and mindful of their actions. I know that a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this but I really think that banning a song from 74 years ago is crossing over a line. Soon we will have to censor everything and what will we lose in the process only our first amendment rights.

 

http://frankloesser.com/news/213-baby-its-cold-outside-the-real-story-of-the-song

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/ohio-radio-station-stops-playing-baby-its-cold-outside-amid-me-too-movement

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/shehim/babyitscoldoutside.html

 

 

The Homeschooler and the Interloper

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Let me set the scene we are at a birthday party with a group of family members and everyone is having a good time. There is a gorgeous cake on the table, laughter in the air and kids of all ages are running around enjoying themselves. I see my youngest two playing with friends and when I look to see where my 12 year old is I find him cornered by an adult who is quizzing him on everything from states & capitals, timetables to the world of politics. My son has that deer stuck in headlights look as he looks to me for assistance not because he can’t answer the questions but because they are being fired at him like bullets from an AK-47.  I immediately step in to release my son from the interloper’s stronghold. I spend the rest of the afternoon keeping one eye on the interloper and the other eye on my children; not really a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Over the years I have encountered a number of these interlopers some are family members, some are friends while most are strangers. They all have good intentions and I know that they do not mean any true harm but it can be pretty stressful dealing with them. I am always open to dialogue and if these individuals want to discuss why and how I homeschool that would be great. Instead, they choose to quiz my kids in an effort to find something they may not know so they can have evidence that homeschooling doesn’t work. I disagree with the way the public schools teach but I don’t walk around quizzing public school students in an effort to prove I am right. My kids should be afforded the same respect as any other child and they should be able to enjoy a fun activity without being bombarded with questions. I do my best to intervene in these situations by distracting the interloper with conversation and that usually works.

If you are a homeschooler who has dealt with an interloper let me know how you have handled these encounters in the comments below. I would love to see how other moms and dads manage these types of scenarios.

 

Keeping Christmas Spirit

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Christmas should be a time of joy, happiness, and celebration but all too often it is a time of stress, financial burden, and chaos. Years ago I recognized that Christmas had become too stressful and I was losing my Christmas Spirit earlier and earlier every year. I decided to reevaluate what Christmas meant to me and how I wanted to spend this special time with my family. I wanted to avoid the commercialism of Christmas as much as possible and focus on building memories and traditions with my children. 

When I was little my favorite part of Christmas was gathering together at my grandparent’s house with the entire extended family. I will never forget the feelings of love and comfort that those gatherings brought me. Since my grandparents have both passed away we no longer gather together as we once did but I still make an effort every year to bring my family together for an annual Christmas Eve party. My kids enjoy these gatherings as much as I do and we always choose a fun theme for our party. This year we are hosting a pajama party which should be pretty silly. Our focus is less on gifts and more on time spent with family and this has made all the difference. 

This doesn’t mean we don’t partake in the giving part of Christmas because we absolutely do but we keep things simple and festive. The best gifts are the ones that are thoughtful and that is what we strive for and thoughtful doesn’t mean expensive. When it comes to gifts for the kids we keep the number of gifts to a minimum. They each get a big item from Santa and then a big item from mom and dad. We always include a few books, some art supplies, socks & underwear and a smaller item for them to unwrap. We usually get them one gift to share from us as well for instance last year they received a Karaoke machine and I think this year it will be a microscope. 

Keeping Christmas simple allows me to keep my Christmas Spirit all season long because I can focus on the things that matter. The memories that we build with our children will outlast any toy or doodad they might get under the tree. Christmas shouldn’t be a time of stress and chaos it should be a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and to celebrate the love and joy of family. 

 

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How do you keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the season?

Happy Thanksgiving

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It’s almost midnight and I am finishing up with my meal prep for tomorrow. I try to get as many things knocked out the night before so I can enjoy the holiday with my family. My cranberry sauce is chilling in the fridge, hashbrown casserole is ready to go and the pumpkin pie is cooling off on the stovetop. I am exhausted and as soon as I tackle the mountain of dishes in my kitchen sink it will be lights out for me.

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours. There is so much to be thankful for but this year I am most thankful for my husband and my kids. I am thankful that I get to raise my kids with my husband and that we get to watch our three beautiful children grow into amazing individuals. Life is often bumpy but I know that as long as we have each other we can navigate whatever life throws our way. I am also incredibly thankful for my mom who is more than a mother she is my very best friend and she inspires me every day in so many ways.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, laughter, and great food!

Let me know in the comments what you are thankful for this year.

Bookstore Adventures

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So you may or may not have realized it yet but I am a major bibliophile (I know that sounds dirty but it just means that I love books and I hoard them). Next to my husband and kids my two greatest loves are coffee and books. When I find a place that combines both it just sends me over the top. Lately, I have been feeling pretty blue and I really needed a pick me up so I headed over to one of my favorite places in the whole world, Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble might just be a bookstore to some but for me, it is a sanctuary. There is just something so soothing about the smell of books and coffee and I can’t help but sniff the air whenever I walk into this store. I am sure I look a bit odd sniffing the air the way a dog might sniff the air but I don’t care it is my therapy.

As I walked around the store dreaming about moving into Barnes & Noble on a permanent basis I stumbled across their clearance section. I took a moment to peruse the items that had been placed under a sign that said “All items $2”.  I found two books for my personal library so I was already feeling like a winner when I stepped to the back of the clearance shelf and saw a variety of toy items that had been clearanced as well. I couldn’t believe it I found a YoKai watch, a collectors album for YoKai with coins, and a stack of YoKai collector cards. I did a happy dance right there in the middle of Barnes & Noble but then I collected myself realizing that this might be a mistake.

I gathered the items clutching them to me in case anyone else saw my deals and attempted an intercept and rushed to the checkout. I presented the items to the cashier explaining that they were on the clearance shelf but I wasn’t sure if they were supposed to be there. After a few quick motions with his scanner, the cashier confirmed that they were part of the sale. Not only were they on sale but they took an additional 20% off with my Educators discount.  I may or may not have embarrassed myself by doing another happy dance but I will never tell. The reason for my happiness was that my youngest son is obsessed with YoKai and really wanted a watch for Christmas. I just got him 2 of his Christmas gifts and a stocking stuffer for under $6. If I would have paid full price for each of these items I would have spent over $40 so I basically won the lotto.

I keep a tight budget for Christmas and I love finding great deals that allow me to stay on track financially. Whenever you are out and about check clearance shelves because you can find great gift ideas at crazy low prices. I have found toys discounted at bookstores, hardware stores, and even a few truck stops so the deals are out there if you look for them. I know Thanksgiving hasn’t happened yet and it is a tad early to be talking about Christmas shopping but I just had to share my bookstore adventure.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

***This post is in no way sponsored by Barnes & Noble, in fact, they only know me as the crazy woman who sniffs the air as she walks around browsing books and sipping coffee in their midwest stores***

How I Earn Income From Home

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I am a wife, mother, homeschooler, blogger and a Beauty Boss. One of the ways I contribute to my household financially is through income I make through Avon.

I love being an Avon Independent Sales Representative for so many reasons. Avon has allowed me to build my own business while working from home, it has allowed me to meet so many great people and I get to share these wonderful high-quality products with my friends and family. Most of all I enjoy the independence and the freedom to be creative while earning an income for my family. If you are looking for a way to earn a little extra income or perhaps a full-time income while working from home than I invite you to check out Avon to see the many benefits of being an independent sales representative. I will provide a link below for those interested in more information and I am available via email to answer any questions you may have.

If your not interested in becoming an Avon representative but would like more information about the products we offer I invite you to visit my eStore which I will link below. You will be amazed to see how many great products we offer and right now we have a great selection of Christmas gifts for that special someone in your life. Black Friday is just around the corner and you will find some great sales when you visit my online store.

eStore:

http://www.youravon.com/hecticeclecticmama

 

Become an Avon Representative:

https://www.youravon.com/becomeARepp=MBBaR&c=MBBaR&s=MBBaR&shopURL=HecticEclecticMama

 

Did you know that Avon products are cruelty-free?

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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Cranberry Sauce

I know that there are a lot of people out there who do not like the flavor of cranberry sauce but I am not one of them. Thanksgiving dinner in my house is not complete without the cranberry sauce. Not only do we enjoy it with the main meal but I like to keep it on hand for leftover turkey sandwiches. I like to spread a little cranberry sauce on my bread and then layer on lettuce, leftover turkey and a slice of Havarti cheese. It might sound a bit strange but the flavors really do compliment one another making this a gourmet sandwich. This is my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce and it is very simple and can be made for under $4.00. You’ll have plenty of cranberry sauce for your turkey dinner and enough to use on sandwiches throughout the week following Thanksgiving.

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Best Day Ever!

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If your kids are anything like mine you have heard them proclaim a fun or adventurous day as the “best day ever”. Today I was the one proclaiming today as the best day ever and it truly was. This morning we woke up early, bundled up with hats and gloves and headed to Downtown Toledo for their annual Holiday Parade. I have always wanted to attend a Thanksgiving parade and after 35 years I made that wish a reality. It was so much fun experiencing this first with my kids and after today I can feel the magic of the holidays zipping through me like electricity.

If you have never had the opportunity to attend a holiday parade I highly suggest you move it up on the list of things to do because it really is a wonderful experience. After enjoying the parade we moved over to one of our favorite restaurants for hot soup and sandwiches. We then decorated our front porch before moving inside to make holiday slime. Watching the kids bounce, squish and stretch their colorful slime was so much fun that I had to join in and make some for myself as well.

Sometimes you just have to let loose and have fun and nothing is more fun than being silly with your kids. As parents, we often plan fun adventures or activities for our kids but we let the planning take the fun out of it for ourselves. Try whenever possible to not just be an observer but an active participant because this is when the very best moments happen. Today I enjoyed myself and I truly felt like a kid again and sharing in the joy and laughter with my children made today the “best day ever”.

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Maple Dinner Rolls

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Hello everyone I am back to share another holiday recipe that would make a perfect accompaniment for this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner. One way you can keep your budget on track for Thanksgiving dinner is to make your rolls from scratch. I know that the grocery store offers a ton of ready to go options but it is definitely worth it to make your own. Not only will you save money but you will be rewarded with warm, fluffy rolls that will fill your home with the comforting scent of fresh baked bread. This recipe was tested by my kitchen elves and they gave this recipe two thumbs up so I hope your family will enjoy this as well.

Maple Dinner Rolls

Hashbrown Casserole Recipe

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With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to share some of my favorite holiday recipes. This particular recipe is one of my favorites because not only does it taste great but it is also very affordable and so simple to make. Sometimes I will make this the night before Thanksgiving and reheat it in my slow cooker on Thanksgiving so I can free up oven space. I am not sure where the original recipe came from but everyone in my family makes a version of this recipe and I know that it is pretty popular throughout the Midwest. I can make an entire 13×9 casserole for under $7 using ingredients that are on sale or generic whenever possible. Tomorrow I will share another one of my favorite holiday recipes so I hope you will stop by to check that out.

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Let me know if your family has a Hashbrown Casserole that finds its way to the table every holiday!

 

$40 Thanksgiving Dinner

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The countdown to Thanksgiving has officially begun and there are only 8 days left! I love the holidays and I enjoy spending time with friends and family but it can get pretty stressful too. Let’s face it Thanksgiving dinner can be a headache especially if you are the one hosting the event. If your finances are already tight this time of year can be more than just a little stressful. According to Fortune, the average family spends approximately $100 on Thanksgiving dinner which is a hefty price tag for most families watching their budget. This year I want to share a few ideas to help you keep Thanksgiving fun and your budget on track.

The first thing I recommend is to sit down a week prior to Thanksgiving and plan your menu. Knowing what your menu is in advance will allow you to price shop and get the best deals. Snag as many grocery store ads as you can so you can compare prices and see who has the best deals. This year my local Kroger store has the best prices so that is where I will be shopping. Once you have your menu planned write down your list but before you hit the store take a look in your pantry first. You may be surprised to discover that you already have some of your ingredients on hand. If you do cross those off your list, grab your favorite cup of coffee and tackle the grocery store. Only buy the things that are on the list because even a few small add-ons can blow your budget.

I am able to keep my budget for turkey day under $40 by making things from scratch. It might be tempting to buy assembled dishes from the grocery store but you’re going to compromise on budget and quality. Keep your menu simple and enlist the help of your family to whip up affordable dishes. Sure you will have more dishes and flour will cover every surface of your kitchen but you will be making beautiful memories and this alone can reduce the stress of preparing a holiday meal. If you are interested in getting recipes for this menu stay tuned because I will be sharing recipes as well as additional holiday tips!

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http://fortune.com/2017/11/20/average-american-thanksgiving-spending/

Raising Political Kids

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November 6th was an important day in our household as well as in many households across the nation as we marched to the polls to have our voices heard. I truly love election day and I take my responsibility as a voter very seriously. It is important to not only participate in elections but also to be as informed as you can regarding candidates, their stance on issues and the various proposals on the ballot.

As a homeschooler, I used the days up to the election to drive home the importance of voting in this country. We discussed the history of voting, how the election process works and how to become an informed voter. On election day my kids were able to come to the polls and witness their mom cast her vote. That night we turned on the news and watched as the votes rolled in to see the outcome. I tried to make the event as exciting as possible because I want them to be passionate about politics.

During our election night celebration, my daughter asked me whether she should be a Republican or a Democrat when she became an adult. I love that she asked this question because it gave me a chance to talk to them about what my expectations were for them once they reached the age to vote. My husband and I are both pretty conservative Republicans and many people might think that because we homeschool we are going to force our children into being Republicans. This is not true instead of raising our kids to affiliate themselves with a specific party we have chosen to raise our kids to simply be political. I want them to be passionate and active voters who take the time and care to understand the issues. I don’t care what their political affiliations end up being I only care that they treat the voting process with respect and recognize the honor it is to be able to vote in the first place. I want them to stand up for what they believe while interacting positively with those who have different points of view.

Whether you homeschool or not I think it is important to allow children to identify their own political path. It doesn’t matter which party they end up affiliating with; what matters is that they are passionate about this country and the direction it is heading. Don’t label your children instead allow them to find their own individual niche in life. I truly believe that this is the best way to raise children into happy, healthy and productive adults.

 

 

 

 

 

Salem Witch Trials & Due Process

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This month we have really delved into the Halloween spirit and we have been learning about all things spooky and mysterious. Today we spent some time in 1692 Salem Massachusetts visiting one of the most infamous times in American History; the Salem Witch Trials. While this is a fascinating story shrouded in mystery, perfect for our Halloween theme, there is an important lesson to be learned.

This morning we decided to drive up to Michigan to visit my mom. It’s a long drive but my car allows me to connect my cell phone through the speakers via Bluetooth and this has been a great way to homeschool on the run. I  found a History Channel documentary on the Salem Witch Trials and we spent our road trip listening and discussing what we had learned. I love weaving documentaries into our studies because they provide so much information and they do so in a way that is entertaining. The discussion that followed was amazing and it gave us an opportunity to discuss the importance of Due Process.

The documentary did a great job of explaining how the Puritan’s way of governing was very different from the government that our founding fathers would later layout for our country. Without due process, innocent individuals were sentenced to death simply because they were accused of wrongdoing. No evidence was necessary to determine one’s innocence which made it possible for things to get so out of hand 326 years ago. We need to remember that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty not guilty until proven innocent.

My kids learned an important lesson today one that I hope will stick with them for a lifetime. It is important for us to maintain a legal system that is fair and equal to all American citizens.

 

History Channel Documentary: The Salem Witch Trials

The World Is A Scary Place

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Life in the United States has become fraught with political, racial and sexual tension. You can’t turn on the television or open a paper without being inundated with all of the anger and animosity being played out all across the country. It’s scary for me as an adult to witness all this turmoil and its even scarier for my kids. My husband and I have chosen to not shelter our children from the chaos of the world instead we have used current events to inspire discussion. Through discussion, we have been able to answer a lot of their questions and we have helped them feel safe in this scary world. I believe that change starts small and that by raising my children to be intelligent, honest, and compassionate people they will become productive adults who can impact the world positively.

Knowing that I am raising good people does my heart good and fills me with hope for the future but still, I am exhausted by all of the anger. What happened to civility? Why can’t people share different opinions with each other and engage in civil discussion? We should celebrate our differences in opinion and work to find common ground. Instead, people are happy to tear one another apart, disown family members, shame one another and verbally and physically assault others. History has shown us so many times in the past the consequence of not finding common ground. It was a 156 years ago when political, racial and sexual tensions ripped this nation apart and started the Civil War. I wish people would stop and think about their actions and reevaluate what is important.

This is the advice that I have given to my children: Treat others with respect and use your voice to calmly express your opinions because nobody understands someone who is yelling. Always try to view the situation from someone else’s perspective and do not let pride, anger or passion prevent you from seeing the truth. If you are passionate about something make sure you have researched your opinion so you can engage in intelligent debate. Most importantly never forget the value of honesty and integrity.

 

It’s not our differences that separate us in this world it is our actions.

                                                                                                          -Hectic Eclectic Mama

Chasing My Tail

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If you have ever had the pleasure of owning a dog at some point in time you have watched that dog begin the impossible task of chasing its tail until it collapses into exhaustion. I have a dog that spends a great deal of time chasing her tail and I always find myself wondering what is going on in her head and today I learned firsthand how she feels and its absolute frustration. I have this insight because today I have spent the entire day chasing my own tail and it wasn’t until 5 pm this evening that I finally identified why I was chasing my tail, I forgot to drink coffee. I don’t know how I did this since I am pretty much 90% coffee and 10% water but somehow I forgot the most important part of my day outside of breathing.

I was telling my eleven year old that I was feeling a little more chaotic than usual and he pointed out that he hadn’t seen me drink any coffee. Apparently my kids pay close attention to my coffee consumption because they have learned that the secret to happy mama is an adequate supply of coffee. Now that I have received my daily dose of coffee I am feeling much better and more focused. I will be sure to not make this mistake again in fact I have already programmed my coffeemaker for tomorrow morning.

Today was one of those Hectic Eclectic days where I bounced out of bed and straight into the car and that is how I missed the most important part of my day. I think as parents we often forget to take care of ourselves but in order for us to be productive parents and adults we can’t forget to take a few minutes each day to do something simple like enjoy a cup of coffee. There would have been less chaos and frustration if I had remembered to take a minute for myself. If you are having an abnormally frustrating day and life just seems more complicated than it should take a minute to do something for yourself. Drink a cup of coffee, take  a walk around the block or spend some time enjoying a little solitude.

Have you ever found yourself chasing your tail? What do you do to bring peace to your day?

 

Good Parents Homeschool!

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A simple fact in life is good parents homeschool their children. Those who do not engage in homeschooling are neglecting their children’s education. Some of you who are reading this are already getting upset but before you start throwing things at me let me explain.

I am a full-time homeschooler this means that my kids receive all of their education from me and the materials that I provide for them. When you hear the term homeschooling it often means someone who is engaged in full-time homeschooling. Not all homeschoolers are full time, in fact, some parents provide the majority of their children’s education but supplement with classes in a traditional institution or through a co-op. There is another type of homeschooling that is often overlooked and that is the homeschooling parent who sends their children to a traditional brick and mortar institution but actively participates in their child’s education. Yes, that is right you can be a homeschooling parent even if your kids attend public school.

Any parent who takes the time to invest in their child’s education or personal interest is actively participating in homeschooling. If you read with your kids, help them find answers to questions they ask or inspire them to be creative or to follow an interest than you are actively homeschooling. Education should occur in the home it doesn’t necessarily have to be full time because full-time homeschooling doesn’t work for every family but it still needs to happen. Many parents homeschool without even realizing it and they are making a positive impact on their kids. Unfortunately, there are a number of parents who believe that education should only be administered by a certified teacher and they do not engage in any form of homeschooling and these kids suffer academically and socially.

It is so important for parents to take an active role in their children’s lives. Get to know your kids and help them discover their interest and passions in life. Make reading as a family a priority even when you have children who are independent readers. Put the electronics up for a little bit each day and engage in face to face discussions so that you can teach your kids how to have conversations. Homeschooling isn’t about academics alone in fact when you homeschool you are teaching your children how to be productive citizens and how to be good parents in the future. Teach your children to build a nurturing home full of love and a passion for learning.

 

 

My Love Affair With the Instant Pot

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I am seriously in love with my Instant Pot. I have been wanting one for the longest time but as a frugal mama, on a budget, the cost has kept me from running out and grabbing one. That is until a few weeks ago when I had enough money left in my grocery budget to finally make the jump and purchase the famed pressure cooker. This turned out to be the best investment I have made in a long time and I am kicking myself for not getting one sooner. If you are sitting on the fence and wondering if it is worth it to throw down $80 for this product then let me assure you that it absolutely is especially if you are wrangling a busy family that is always on the run.

You can find millions of recipes on Pinterest and the Instant Pot comes with a small recipe guide to get you going. They also have a whole line of cookbooks featuring a variety of different styles of cooking as well as recipes geared towards those with dietary restrictions. It truly is a miracle machine you can whip up tender fluffy rice, cook a soup or a roast and you can even bake a cake. Today I made Sesame Chicken and the chicken was so tender it practically melted in my mouth. That Sesame Chicken took me less than 15 mins to make from start to finish which is faster than ordering pizza or grabbing something in the drive-thru. We haven’t grabbed takeout or ordered a pizza since I bought the Instant Pot and that used to be a once a week occurrence. This means that not only has it saved me time but it will save me money.

Yes, I am a nerd and I know how weird I sound but I love things that make my life a little less chaotic. This is my honest review of the Instant Pot and I am not being paid or sponsored to write this post. Seriously though if you are looking for something that will help you cook meals faster without compromising on that home cooked quality than an Instant Pot is what you need. Now that I have poured out my heart and confessed my love affair with my Instant Pot I am going head off to bed and dream of the many recipes I can whip up for my family in the near future.

Fun Fall Science Lab

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I often encounter those who are skeptical that homeschooling is a legitimate form of education. One of the concerns that are often brought up is that my kids won’t have a well-rounded education in science because we do not have access to a science lab for experiments. This is really funny to me because when you think back to your school days how many of us were actually exposed to a state of the art science lab. Typically, science teachers had to make do with their desks or a small table within the classroom to showcase an experiment. I didn’t step foot into a science lab until high school when I took Chemistry and we only used the lab so that we could have access to the bunsen burners.

While I would love a home science lab; I like many teachers across the world utilize the space I have and it has worked out pretty good. In fact, my kids have participated in hundreds of science experiments and activities right at our kitchen table. My homeschooled children have had more opportunities to participate in science experiments than their friends and cousins who attend traditional brick and mortar schools. In fact, my oldest niece who is in high school has never been able to participate in a science experiment. She has had the opportunity to observe but due to budget and time constraints at her school, she has not been able to actively participate. Now I will admit it is fun to watch science experiments but the learning that occurs when you actually get to fully participate is priceless.

Today we piled around our kitchen table to explore “Why Leaves Change Colors”. I found this fun science lab on education.com called Leaf Chromatography. Basically, we have separated the different pigments from leaves to see what colors are present. We then read through a few handouts I found online that explains why each of those pigments is present. To help us fully understand why leaves change color we also sat down and read a great book written by Betsy Maestro titled Why Do Leaves Change Color?. Whenever I do any type of Science experiment or activity I try to follow up with additional materials to reinforce the concepts we learned. You don’t need a lot of money, a fancy science lab or a masters degree in science to provide your children with a quality science education. I will link the resources we used today below in case you want to give this lab a try with your kids.

https://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/leaves/leaves.htm

http://eekwi.org/veg/trees/treestruecolor.htm

https://www.education.com/science-fair/article/find-color-pigments-hidden-green/

 

Fun, Free and Spooktacular!

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I can’t believe that its already the middle of October! Halloween is only 21 days away and we are working hard to fit in a ton of fun and spooktacular activities. This morning we ventured to Blue Creek Metropark in Northwest Ohio for a nature scavenger hunt where we also hunted for leaves. We really had a blast and I love getting outdoors with my little ones and making memories with them. Not only did we have fun but we learned how to identify the leaves we found on the ground and we discussed how and why the leaves change colors. We collected a number of leaves for a science experiment that I have planned for later in the week where we will use Chromatography to separate the different pigmentations in the leaves. I will share more information about this experiment later this week in case you want to try this with your little ones.

Today though I do have something fun to share with you and your family and its a great worksheet from Education.com. I absolutely love this website and we print worksheets and lessons from them all the time. A few months ago I was allowed to share a fun math worksheet and was beyond thrilled when they asked if my readers might be interested in Halloween themed worksheet.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Education.com I strongly urge you to click the link below to see all that they have to offer. Whether you are a full-time homeschooler or perhaps looking for supplementary worksheets you will be amazed by the variety and quality of the content on their website. In the meantime enjoy this fun, free and spooktacular treat from Education.com.

 

Find the spooky words in this Halloween word search from Education.com! Find more fun language arts games here.

word search_halloween

word search_halloween_answers

 

 

Baa Baa Black Bat

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Baa Baa Black Bat

Have you any bugs?

Yes sir, yes sir, 3 bags full.

One for the bird

One for the cat

One for the little spider

who lives down the lane.

*Original written by Rudyard Kipling
*Adaptation written byThe Derryberry Kids 🙂

This time of year I like to pile the kids in the car and take a drive in the country so we can enjoy the changing scenery. Seeing the trees turn various shades of yellow, gold and red is truly magical and it is a great way to spend a fall afternoon. A couple of years ago during one of our fall drives the kids reworked Baa Baa Black Sheep and made a Halloween version featuring a bat. Ever since then it has become one of their favorite Halloween rhymes. I really enjoy this and it always amazes me how creative and imaginative my kids can be with just a little encouragement.

 

Has your family reworked a classic rhyme, poem or song?

 

 

Happy October

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Fall is fully underway here in Northwest Ohio. The colors are beginning to change and while our days are still warm the temps are falling at night allowing for restful sleep. Fall is really my favorite time of year and we are only 30 days away to one of my favorite holidays, Halloween.  We love Halloween and we celebrate all fall with fun Halloween activities, crafts, and decorations. Today we spent our morning decorating our front porch with a creepy scene and later this afternoon we will begin to decorate our classroom a.k.a dining room. While we enjoy the creep factor on the outside of our house inside we like to keep our Halloween decorations cute and festive.

I love Halloween themed worksheets, activities, and events to help keep our homeschooling fun. Madlibs are great to include in your language arts lessons and we like to do them as a group so everyone can get involved in the fun. I will include a link to a fun Madlib offered by education.com titled Zombie Story at the end of this post. I am working on putting together a resource list with additional Halloween activities and crafts for you and your family to enjoy. I am hoping to have that posted in the next couple of days. I will also post some pictures of our decorations so you can see how crazy we are about Halloween and fall:).

Do you have a special way of celebrating Halloween? What is your favorite fall activity? Do you incorporate the holidays into your homeschool curriculum?

 

https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/zombie-story/

 

Homeschooling: Business 101

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Hello, today I wanted to share how I am introducing my kids to Business 101.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that I am able to incorporate real-life experiences into our daily lessons. Recently I joined Avon as an Independent Sales Representative and this has been such a great experience. When you are an Avon Representative you are given the resources and the training you need to build a successful business. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to share this information as well as my personal knowledge of sales, marketing and accounting with my kids. Now I am not trying to direct my children into the field of sales. Instead, I am providing them with information and skills that they can add to their virtual backpacks. Skills that one day may serve to be useful.

So you may be wondering how I am incorporating my business into our homeschool and I will explain. Basically, I am openly sharing and discussing my business with them and getting their help with certain tasks. For instance, when my first order arrived I had the kids locate the invoice and together we checked our order to make sure it was complete and accurate. I then had them help me match the products to the order forms so that we could distribute them to the correct clients. They have also helped me design flyers and brainstorm marketing ideas. It has been a fun experience and while some of their ideas have been a bit wacky (i.e dropping brochures from a helicopter), the fact that they are excited and interested is great. My hope is that they will not only learn a little about business, sales, and marketing but they will also see how hard work can be used to achieve goals.

Avon has been a great vehicle to teach my kids about business but you don’t have to start a business to pass this knowledge onto your kids. Another way to teach Business 101 to your homeschoolers is to have your kids set up a mock business and build a portfolio with a business plan (goals and action plan for business). You could have them create their own business cards, flyers, and products (i.e. lego or clay model, drawing, computerized image). Help them research how to start a business, what it takes to make a business profitable and what regulations would affect their business. Depending on your child’s age you could customize this to suit their unique skill set and learning style.

The most important thing to remember is to make the process fun because learning should be fun!

 

Interested in becoming a Beauty Boss? Visit https://www.youravon.com/becomeARep?siteid=avon&p=BaRTop&c=BaRTop&s=BaRTop&shopURL=HecticEclecticMama

 

A Dialogue clock???

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I recently had a young woman in her early twenties confess that she didn’t know what time it was because she couldn’t read a “dialogue” clock. At first I was stumped by this statement then I realized that she meant an analog clock. I was honestly a little shocked that someone in their early twenties was still unable to tell time but apparently the school she went to didn’t spend a lot of time on this and most of the clocks she encounters are digital. As a homeschooling mom I was overcome with an intense urge to teach this young woman how to correctly tell time using an analog clock.

Unfortunately, she was not interested; explaining that she had made it this far without any issues and as long as she had her cell phone she could usually keep track of the time. She then tells me that she is too old now to learn new things and it is easier to just accept that there are things that she doesn’t understand. This interaction left me feeling helpless and upset and I tried to explain to her that you are never too old to learn new things. In fact not only are you never to old to learn but every day you should set forth to learn something new.

This encounter has made me wonder how many people graduate from high school missing basic skills that should have been learned during their elementary days. What is most troubling is that many of these individuals are completely capable of learning these skills but limit their own potential due to lack of self esteem. Why is there this idea that once we hit a certain age we are no longer required to learn or that we are unable to learn?

The best gift you can give any child is to teach them how to be life long learners. Teach your children that they are never too old to master new skills and that they are capable of so many things. When it comes to those who have given up on learning perhaps we can inspire them to look at life and learning in a different way. I hope maybe this young woman heard the words I spoke and took them to heart. I hope that one day she realizes that she is a smart and capable individual and that she will never be too old to learn.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

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I can’t believe that summer is almost officially over. I am definitely looking forward to cooler weather, fall leaves, and fall fun but I still can’t help but wonder what happened to summer. I feel like the past few months have been so stressful and hectic that I haven’t had any time to truly enjoy the warm sunny weather and now it is almost over.

One of the reasons this past summer has been so crazy is that our youngest son has required a great deal of dental work. Our youngest son may have an autoimmune issue that is affecting the enamel on his teeth. So we still have to figure out what is causing the dental issues but we are now complete with all of the dental work. In order to pay for what insurance wouldn’t cover I had to take on a full time position working as a baker at a local restaurant. I enjoy the work and the challenges it brings but it definitely has added to our hectic eclectic life. I wonder if life will ever slow down enough for us to really feel like we are living in the moment.

My husband and I have been dreaming for the longest time of raw land to establish a small homestead. Someplace where the kids can run, play and explore and we can plant a garden and raise some livestock.I would love to be able to make this dream a reality and finally retire from the workforce and be a stay at home mom. It can be overwhelming attempting to balance work, home, kids, and homeschooling but so far we are making it work. The biggest downside of wearing so many hats is that time really flies and it makes you feel like the world is speeding past you.

This fall I really want to focus on slowing things down a bit so I can enjoy the season. I am already planning my fall bucket list and it is full of fall activities and Halloween fun. This is my favorite time of year and I refuse to let fall pass me by at lighting speed. I may have missed summer but I am ready to ring in the fall so I am going to dig out my favorite sweater, throw a batch of sugar cookies into the oven and grab a pumpkin spice latte.

What is your favorite part of fall?

I Miss Sleep!!!

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I feel like there is a conspiracy preventing me from getting a good nights rest or even a small cat nap. I really doubt I have had more than 10 hours of sleep over the past week and it is beginning to catch up with me. It all started last week when my youngest son Daniel decided to jump from the middle of our stairs to the landing and then fell head first into our coat closet. You would think this little incident would have made him more cautious but no the following day he decided to make a pile of clothes and jump over those and unfortunately collided with the wall.  This final incident led to a rather scary goose egg in the middle of his forehead. I spent the next few nights waking him up every so often to ensure he was okay. Head injuries are so scary and my kids just seem prone to them for some reason. I wish I could wrap them in bubble wrap and strap helmets to their heads. I love that they are adventurous and imaginative but I wish they would realize that they are not indestructible. Once I was sure he was okay and no symptoms of concussion had developed I was hopeful for a night of rest but one thing after another led to disturbed sleep or not enough time for a good rest. Even this afternoon I had the kids set up with an activity and I was ready for a small cat nap and just as I began to drift off a neighbor kid knocked on my door to see if I wanted my lawn mowed.

You don’t realize how important something simple like sleep is until you have gone so long without it. I am determined that tonight is the night, I am putting everything aside and focusing on nothing but a good nights rest. Dishes can wait till morning, the unswept floor will still be waiting for me in the morning and the vacuum cleaner won’t care if it spends a few more hours tucked away in the closet. Tonight this mama is getting sleep!

The work of a parent is never done and you are on call 24/7 which can be hard in the best of circumstances but when you stop taking care of yourself it is nearly impossible. Sometimes we Mama’s (and Papa’s) have to take a break and recharge our batteries so we can be the best for our families. If that means dinner is delivered to the doorstep, housework is put off to the next day and the kids are snuggled down early for bed with a movie so you can sleep then so be it. The next day when you are well rested and recharged you will have the energy to attack the housework and all the other responsibilities that come with the day.

With that being said I am off to bed. I have bribed my children with popsicles and they have assured me that tonight there will be no daredevil stunts. Goodnight to all of the wonderful mama’s may you have a peaceful and restful night!

I Love Times Tales!!!

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I recently stumbled across an advertisement for a fun program that is meant to teach children their multiplication tables effortlessly. The program is called Times Tales and I will include a link below if you want to investigate this product further.  Before I continue with my personal opinion of this product I will state that I am not being paid for this review and it is not being sponsored by Time Tales. I purchased the e-version directly from the Time Tales website although I did find competitive prices being offered by several different online retailers including Amazon and Educents.

On to the review, I love this product and even though we have only been using it for three days I can already see that all three of my kids are benefiting. Before purchasing, I did read a lot of reviews and saw that a lot of parents were recommending the product but from personal experience, I have learned that what looks good on paper doesn’t always work for us in the real world. The major selling point for me was that this product is supposed to assist those with dyslexia learn their multiplication tables. My oldest son has dyslexia and while he has been working on his multiplication facts for a while and knows a number of them there are still quite a few that he struggles with. I also wanted to see if this would help my seven-year-old daughter as she has just begun to work on her multiplication facts.

I purchased the Digital Download package which comes with the printable worksheets for $15.95. All of my kids including my 5 year old sat down and watched part 1 where they are memorizing the “Times Tales” that will help them memorize their multiplication facts. The first thing I noticed was that all three of my kids were enjoying the silly tales. There was a lot of laughing and smiling as they watched the video but what shocked me the most was that by the end of part one they were reciting multiplication facts. Even my five year old has been regaling me with his new found knowledge of multiplication. They are supposed to watch part one daily until they have it mastered and then they can move on to part two. There are worksheets that you can print off as well that will help reinforce what they have learned.

Even though we have only been using this product for a few days I am absolutely in love with it and plan to investigate the other math products offered by this company. If you have little ones who are struggling with multiplication or who are ready to begin learning their facts I highly recommend this product. I can’t wait to see where my kids are in a few weeks once they have completed the entire program. I will do an update once we have made it to the end but I just couldn’t wait to share this exciting program with other moms and dads.

 

Time Tales

Times Tales® Home Editions

A Beautiful Day

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Today was a beautiful day and we took advantage of the warm weather to take a little excursion. Just down the road from us, there is a hidden gem known as the 577 Foundation. I had read about it in the local newspaper and was intrigued by the broad spectrum of activities they offered. Even though I had read a brief overview and visited their website I was not prepared for the wonder and beauty we would discover.

In the heart of Perrysburg Ohio along the Maumee River is an estate that has been turned into an ecological wonderland. We discovered a variety of gardens, indoor and outdoor ponds teeming with fish and tadpoles, a grassy orchard trail, a fossil dig, beehives and so much more. We will definitely visit the 577 Foundation again because even after spending almost 3 hours of wandering around I don’t think we saw everything.

If you live in Northwest Ohio I will drop a link to their website below so you can check this place out for yourself. Not only is this a great place to visit but you can’t beat the price as there is no admission. If you don’t live in Northwest Ohio I encourage you to seek out your area and find a local “hidden gem”.  These types of field trips are a great way to get out and explore nature, learn about conservation and a variety of ecology-related topics.

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For more information about this great field trip destination visit:

577 Foundation

 

Spring 2018

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Beauty!

Spring has finally arrived here in Northwest Ohio which has filled us with so much joy and excitement. Our goal this spring is to experience as much adventure and homeschooling fun that we can fit into our hectic eclectic schedule. Check out our Spring Bucket List and let me know what you think?

  • Puddle Jumping
  • Visit a nature center
  • Complete a 5-mile hike
  • Dance in the rain
  • Build a birdhouse
  • Plant a garden
  • Host a picnic in the park
  • Visit a Civil War battlefield
  • Take a ferry boat to Put-In-Bay
  • Visit the Toledo Botanical Gardens
  • Investigate a pond
  • Go bird watching
  • Go fishing
  • Enjoy a bonfire with friends and family
  • Go Horseback riding

What activities and/or adventures do you have planned this spring?

Word Detectives

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WordDetective

I would love to say that my kids enjoy every aspect of homeschooling but that wouldn’t be truthful. Homeschooling is definitely a learning process while our kids are learning reading, writing and arithmetic we are learning right alongside them. We are learning what curriculum works and what doesn’t. Most families choose to homeschool because they recognize that a one size fits all approach is ineffective but this means that we have to figure out what works for each individual child. This process alone can be difficult for kids and parents alike and we have shed our fair share of tears along the way.

One lesson I have learned over the years is that if I want to ignite a passion for learning in my kids I need to keep the process as fun as possible. This doesn’t mean that my kids jump for joy when I announce it is time for school work but I do try to mix in fun activities to help keep them motivated and to reduce not only their stress but mine as well. Two subjects that were constantly causing tears at our kitchen table were spelling and handwriting. I have tried dozens of curriculums and workbooks over the years with very little success. Either the material was too tedious or just plain boring. I have tried to implement copywork in a multitude of ways but nothing was working. I was honestly out of ideas and then with the help of my youngest son, Daniel, a new and fun idea was born.

Daniel loves words and while he doesn’t enjoy traditional copywork or workbooks he does love writing random words and learning what they mean. We have the letter magnets on our fridge and he is always spelling out new words and asking for their definitions.  Whenever he would ask for a definition I would sit down with him and we would look it up in our dictionary. We had an old Webster Dictionary that I had gotten years ago at a thrift store and while it is one of my favorites it’s not very appealing to little ones. One day not long ago, I was exploring my local bookstore and I stumbled across DK Publishings “Merriam- Webster’s Children’s Dictionary” and I knew instantly that we needed to add this to our library.

Daniel fell in love with this dictionary and he started finding words of interest and writing them down in his art journal. At first, I didn’t think about it but a few days later I noticed that many of the pages in his art journal were filled with words and he was actually writing down their definitions as well. That day I went out and bought a hardcover journal for each of my kids. I found fun designs that I knew would capture their interest and I set them down on the kitchen table with our new dictionary. I announced that every afternoon for 10 mins they were going to be “Word Detectives”. The goal was to find a word of interest, write down its definition and then draw a picture or write a story about the word. Not only have my kids learned how to use a dictionary but they are practicing spelling and handwriting all while flexing their imaginations.

I don’t know how long playing “Word Detectives” will keep their interest but for now, it is working and for that I am thankful. I love reading their silly stories and listening to them laugh and giggle as they share those stories with each other. When my kids look back on their experience of being homeschooled I want them to have these precious memories of the time we spent together as a family learning.

 

 

 

Finding My Balance

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I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since I have had an opportunity to sit down and share my thoughts. It is so easy to get caught up in life and lose track of the very things that bring us joy and happiness. Last year I was hired by a company to be a virtual customer service agent. This has helped our family financially which has been great but it has also created a number of challenges for our family. The biggest challenge is that while I do get to work from home; 30 hours a week are devoted to my employer and my work responsibilities. This means that I have less time to spend with my family, less time to homeschool and less time to pursue the hobbies that help me maintain peace in my “Hectic Eclectic” world.

The decision to take on a part-time job was a difficult one because I truly enjoy being a stay at home mom. I realized though that if my husband and I were to realize our goal of home ownership we needed additional income. For the past 10 months, I have learned how to balance work, homeschool and my other responsibilities in our home and it has been a difficult journey. I realized a few weeks ago that I was so overworked that I was not enjoying life anymore and that is never a good situation to be in so I decided to take a step back. Luckily my job is very flexible and it wasn’t an issue for me to drop the number of hours I work weekly. It might take us a little longer to carry out our goals but it was the best decision I could make for myself and my family. 

Finding balance in life is very important and if you are feeling stressed, fatigued and/or depressed these are symptoms of a life lacking balance. Take a moment to yourself to sit down and think about where your life is going. Many times the key to balance is simply readjusting your goals. While it is important to have goals in life it is equally important to check in every once in a while to make sure you are on the right path. If you burn out halfway towards your goals chances are you will never make it so make sure you check in with yourself and readjust as needed. 

Making simple changes has helped me find the balance I need to be the best I can be as a wife, mother, and teacher. Life is still chaotic but I finally feel like I have the balance I need in this hectic eclectic life of mine.