Are You Afraid of Leftovers?

Over the years I have encountered a strange phenomenon among men and women my age and that is an unnatural fear of leftovers. I happen to be really good at saving money on my food budget and when people ask me the secret to my success they are usually appalled that I make my family eat leftovers. The funny thing is that these same individuals love to fill their shopping carts with expensive frozen dinners because I guess that is their idea of “fresh food”.

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman about leftovers and she told me that she would never feed her family leftovers because they are gross, flavorless and unhealthy. She had no issue with cooking a homemade meal for her family but instead of packaging away the leftovers for another meal later in the week or storing them in the freezer she just throws them out. When I think of the amount of food this family waste as well as the wasted money it makes my brain hurt. I attempted to explain that leftovers are nothing to be afraid of and in fact are a great way to serve healthy food on a budget. In fact, having leftovers on hand saves time and dishes later in the week when schedules get hectic.

I don’t think I was very successful explaining the benefits of leftovers but it has compelled me to sit down and make a case for them in writing. If you are afraid of leftovers and stumble upon this post I hope you will reconsider the idea of cooking with leftovers.

Leftovers do not have to be gross, flavorless or unhealthy. When you make a casserole and you have leftovers refrigerate or freeze within two hours of serving. This will maintain the quality of the food and prevent bacteria from growing. I agree that bacteria riddled food is gross but proper storage prevents this from happening. I will link a great article below from the FDA that provides some guidelines for food storage.

When it comes to flavor most food will taste better the next day because it has had time to meld flavors. For instance, chicken noodle soup is great day one but it is way better day two because it has sat in the fridge with the veggies and spices melding flavors. When you throw out leftovers you are missing out on a wonderful culinary experience.

Eating leftovers is not unhealthy unless the food was unhealthy to start off with. A leftover chocolate pie isn’t going to gain nutritional value overnight just as a lasagna isn’t going to lose nutritional value overnight. Making food from scratch gives you the opportunity to create recipes that are healthy and nutrient rich. A homemade lasagna is going to be lower in sugar and salt when you compare it to a pre-packaged frozen lasagna. We know that excessive salt and sugar consumption can lead to a whole lot of health problems and unfortunately the convenient pre-packaged meals are saturated with sugar and salt.

Leftovers are nothing to be afraid of as long as you educate yourself on proper food handling and storage you can safely reuse leftovers. I love using leftovers because it gives me a break later in the week when I need to make a fast meal. Not only does this save me time it also saves me on kitchen cleanup because I am just reheating not creating the meal from scratch. Using leftovers can be fun as well it’s an opportunity to get creative. Over the years I have learned how to take leftover chicken noodle soup and turn it into chicken pot pie, creamy chicken and noodles, and chicken spaghetti. Leftover pulled pork is not only great on sandwiches but you can stuff baked potatoes and top with cheddar cheese for a whole new meal.

As you can see leftovers are not that scary and can be a great tool if used correctly to save you time, energy and money. If you are still on the fence consider this if you are feeding your family a steady diet of pre-packaged freezer meals then you are already eating leftovers. These meals are pre-cooked and frozen only to sit a month or two in your local grocery store before being purchased. They are full of sugar, salt, MSG, and other preservatives that give me chills. Skip these chemical laden leftovers and start reheating your home cooked meals. It really is the best thing you can do for your family and your budget!

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm529509.pdf

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Commonly Googled: How to homeschool for free…

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I wanted to see what questions Google was being asked about homeschool so I turned to the Google search engine and typed in how to homeschool and the first thing that popped up for me was how to homeschool for free. When I first began my homeschool journey years ago the financial burden was something that had concerned me because we had very limited finances. I wanted to provide the very best in education and was worried that our budget would restrict the quality of our resources. After a great deal of research I learned that it was possible to homeschool for free without affecting the quality of the education we provided.

If you are thinking of homeschooling and wondering how to do this either with little money or no money I recommend reading Homeschool Your Child For Free by LauraMaery Gold and Joan M. Zielinski. This is a great book that breaks down how to homeschool various age groups and subjects for free and where to find free resources. I found this book in my local library and loved it so much that I hunted down a used version online. Over the years I have read and reread this book countless times and have always found great advice and inspiration.

In order to homeschool your children successfully you need to provide access to books, activities and lively discussion. The first step is providing access to books and even if you don’t have an extensive home library you can accomplish this by taking advantage of your local library. Here you can find books and resources to really teach any subject or topic. The next key to success is to engage your children in activities outside of the home where they can experience new things and learn while having fun. Check with your local metro, state and national parks in your area because many times they provide free activities and events. We have done bird watches, butterfly walks, fishing, hiking and a number of other activities all for free through our park system. With a little online research you can find museums, zoos and field trip opportunities that are free for residents on certain days of the week. Finally, you can utilize lively discussion to educate your children. I love having conversations with my children discussing what we have learned and there thoughts and feelings on the situation. Recently, when discussing the American Revolution I had my kids split into Loyalist and Patriots and argue their stance from that perspective. This was a great way for them to practice what they had learned in a fun way while really gaining an understanding of the issues the colonist were dealing with during that time period.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to break the bank and you can provide a quality education at home for free. Of course you will still need to provide things like pencils, paper, glue and other craft supplies but you don’t need an expensive boxed curriculum to homeschool. Make sure you do a lot of research and read as many books as you can on how to homeschool. This will help you develop a plan for your school year which will basically be the map you need to navigate your journey as a home educator. Anyone can homeschool if they have the desire, the initiative and the willingness to provide an environment that encourages and promotes learning.

Below you will find links to some great information about homeschooling for free. If you have a specific question about homeschooling for free or in general let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Free online homeschool

 

Online Homeschool Community

 

Free Online Math Game

 

Preschool Science Curriculum

 

Education.com (access to lesson plans, worksheets and other resources for a small monthly fee)

 

The Free Reading Program

 

Starfall

 

TeachersPayTeachers (While there is a fee for some of these resources you can find free worksheets and lesson plans)

 

The Good & The Beautiful (Language Arts courses Level 1-5 can be downloaded for FREE)

 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (Free books for kids 5 and under. Not available in all zip codes)

 

 

Ordering Prescription Glasses Online

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Did you know that you can order prescription glasses online? I just learned it was possible about a week ago. I had received a new prescription from my eye doctor and when I went to pick out my glasses I discovered a very long line. I didn’t have enough time that day to wait so I figured I would just go back later in the week. That night I randomly wondered if I could somehow get glasses online so I turned to Google for answers. This is when I discovered Zenni Optical an online retailer that makes it possible to purchase prescription glasses from the comfort of your own home. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only was this a convenient option it was also an affordable option as well.

I found frames for as low as $6.95 with free lenses and I was able to add the anti-reflective coating for $4.95. I purchased two pairs of glasses and had them shipped directly to me for the low price of $29.07. The entire process was relatively simple the only hard part was measuring my pupillary distance. Luckily Zenni Optical provides easy instructions to help you figure this out with a ruler and a mirror. I measured three times to make sure I had the right numbers but this is the only tricky part. Other than that you select the frames you like, enter your prescription for each eye, your pupillary distance, and select whatever options or accessories you want to add. Once your order is submitted it takes between 7-10 days to receive your order unless you pay extra shipping to fast track the order. Since I enjoy saving money whenever possible I chose to wait the 7-10 days and was very happy when I received my order exactly 7 days later in the mail.

I have to admit I was still a little skeptical that I could get a quality pair of prescription glasses online especially with the price I paid for two pairs but I am no longer skeptical. After trying on both pairs I can happily say that this is a fantastic way to purchase glasses in fact I might be going back to their website to snag a pair of sunglasses. In the past every time I have picked out a pair of glasses at the eye doctor I end up with glasses I hate. It’s because I feel rushed and usually just pick the cheaper option but ordering them online allowed me the chance to browse and really find frames I liked. I absolutely love both pairs of glasses I picked out and no longer have to wear the bulky glasses I hate.

If you are in the market for affordable prescription glasses I urge you to check online. I know there are a few online retailers like Zenni Optical but I can honestly say this is a great company to buy through. I love the variety of frames they offered, the fact that they carry children’s glasses, their affordability and of course the convenience of ordering online. From here on out this will be the way I purchase not only my glasses but my family’s glasses as well.

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Disclaimer: I am not being paid or sponsored by Zenni Optical or any other party. This review is unsolicited and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

 

Zenni Optical

www.zennioptical.com

 

 

 

Grocery Budget and the Bulk Store

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Today I took my monthly run to Costco to pick up my bulk items like toilet paper, paper towel and other random household items where buying in bulk makes financial sense. Over the past year I have learned what to buy and what not to buy at Costco and this has helped me avoid the trap of overspending. Unfortunately, while I was waiting to check out I witnessed a common situation where someone had attempted to do all of their grocery shopping at Costco and blew their budget. The lady in front of me had filled her basket with meats, cheeses and produce as well as some household items. When the cashier gave her the total of $400 I thought she was going to pass out right there in the line. Instead of assessing her purchases she swiped her card and left the store in what appeared to be shock.

Stores like Costco, Sams Club and other bulk stores are a great way to save money on household items and random groceries but you have to be strategic when shopping these stores. First never attempt to do all of your grocery shopping at a bulk store because this is a great way to overspend. Second make sure you know the unit cost of items that you buy on a regular basis because this will help you make an informed decision. Unless you have a very large family that can consume bulk produce before it goes bad do not purchase produce from a bulk store. My last tip is to avoid impulse buys if it isn’t on your list walk away and take a day or two to think it over. The seasonal department is the best place to encounter items you feel you must have so either avoid this section all together or practice will power. If you see something that appears to be a great deal take the time to investigate other stores and make sure it’s the best deal first. You can always go back and grab the deal later in the week.

I love Costco and often refer to it as “Disney World for adults” because it really is in my opinion the most wonderful place in the world. While I enjoy my Costco membership I have learned that not everything in a bulk store is a great deal and you have to be pretty choosy if you are working with a tight budget. It’s so very easy to overspend in bulk stores because you could purchase your entire shopping list in one convenient place but you will pay for that convenience. When it comes to items like paper goods, trash bags, laundry soap, dish soap and pet supplies you can find amazing deals in bulk stores.I have even snagged some pretty awesome deals on clothes, shoes and books at Costco.  You can find additional deals within the grocery aisles but you really have to hunt for them. Remember just because a deal is advertised as a “deal” doesn’t necessarily make it so. Things like cookies, crackers, cereal, chips and other snack items are often over priced and would be best purchased at your local grocery store.

If you often find yourself overspending at the bulk stores take a look at the things you are buying to see if you are really getting the deals. Take a notebook and jot down prices at your local store as well as the unit price so you can really compare the prices. I know it sounds like a lot of work but make it fun. Leave the kids at home with your spouse or a babysitter, grab something from your local coffee shop and stroll down the aisles at your local grocery store writing down prices. You don’t need to record every price in the store just on the items you buy weekly. Whenever you are out shopping this little record will help you determine if you have found a deal or if you should pass it by.

They say the one place American’s spend the most money is on their grocery budgets and I believe it. Life is hectic and we often find ourselves overworked and tired so a simple run through the grocery store never feels like a simple endeavor. This is why it is so important to plan your shopping in advance with a meal plan and a shopping list. When you do shop stay focused, stick to your list and really pay attention to prices. You will be surprised how a few simple steps can save you money in the short term and how it can really add up in the long term.

 

 

Hollywood College Admission Drama

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It was recently made public that a number of parents including two very well known actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman used their position and power to manipulate the college admission process. Now I believe that parents should invest in their children’s education but this is going to extremes. What bothers me most about this entire situation is that these individuals have the wealth to purchase educational materials, tutors and other resources to help their children excel. They should have been investing their time and resources into making sure that their children received a quality education from day one. Instead, it appears that they waited until the last minute and decided it was best to pay people off to make it appear that their children had received a proper education.

A parents job is to love,  nurture, and educate their children while preparing them for a future where they can be productive and independent. When parents choose to make life easier for their children they make life harder for them when they become adults. I have a great deal of compassion for the children involved in this situation and while they might have been complicit they were simply following the path their parents laid out for them. They will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the fallout from this situation while dealing with the pressures of living a publicized life. It’s ironic that these parents invested so much money in creating a facade of academic success when in the long wrong they were destroying their children’s chances to be successful.

As a homeschooling parent, I work very hard to make sure that my kids have educational resources and opportunities available to them.  When they struggle I provide love and support and help them figure things out. I do not “do” things for my children I teach my children “how” to do things. We may not have a lot of money but my children are receiving an education that will allow them to become life long learners who value education. They are learning how to be accountable, respectable, and compassionate individuals. They are learning to walk alongside people instead of walking over people.

I would love to see one of my kids make it into an ivy league school but only if it is truly what they want and they do the work to get there. It honestly doesn’t matter to me whether any one of my children goes to college. All I want for my children is to be happy, balanced individuals with the confidence and drive to go after their dreams. I have faith that they will be successful because we are helping them build strong work ethics with good character. Parents all over the world are doing the same thing with their children and it doesn’t take a monetary investment just love and time.

I hope that Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and the other parents involved in this situation learn a powerful lesson. I pray that their children will also learn a lesson and that this situation will propel them forward to do good with their lives. I pray that those who had their college spots stolen will get another shot at admissions and find forgiveness in their hearts. This is a teachable moment for us all and we should share this with our children so they can understand that while their path won’t be made easy in the end the bumps along the way will help shape them into the people God wants them to be and the people that we can be proud of.

 

“In all the toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”

            -Proverbs 14:23

 

Planning 2019-2020 School Year

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I know we are a ways off from the start of the  new school year but this is the time of year that I begin to plan. I gather my curriculum catalogs together along with my trusty notebook so that I can plan out what materials I need for next year and where our journey will take us. I love this process because it allows me to recharge, gain motivation and let’s face it I get to buy books so of course it is my favorite time of year.

Before I begin the process of planning I like to sit down with each of my kids and go over where they are and how they are feeling about their progress. I think it is important to have these conversations with my kids because it’s the best way to keep them on track and involved in their education. During these conversations I like to find out if there is anything in particular they are interested in learning or adding to their curriculum. For instance, my oldest this year has told me that he is really interested in aviation and would like to learn all about flying. When I am planning next year’s curriculum I will be looking for aviation themed books and resources for him to explore this interest. During these conversations I like to take notes that I can refer back to during the planning phase.

Once I have had a conversation with each of my kids I then like to review what we have done over the past year. This is a great time to get rid of what doesn’t work and find replacements. Starting this far in advance with my planning allows me to research and read reviews so that I can make an educated decision on what to try next. Of course things that are working well will be continued into the next year. This past year we have had great success with CTC Math so we will continue this program next year. Again I record these notes in my notebook so that I can reference back to them.

Over the next few weeks I will peruse through my catalogs (my favorite is the Rainbow Resource Catalog) and conduct online research. I usually do this after the kids have gone to bed so I can relax with a cup of coffee while I read uninterrupted. When I find books that interest me or materials I want to try I will write down the information in my notebook. By the time I am done my notebook will be pretty filled in but it will become a valuable tool when I finally write out my scope and sequence for next year.

When the research part is done this is when the real fun begins I like to take myself out for a parent teacher conference. I go to a cafe where I can sit down with my books and my laptop so I can work for a few hours uninterrupted and I can keep the coffee coming along with a delicious lunch. I will use my notebook to fill in what we will be learning next year in Bible, English, Math, Science and History and a list of materials for each subject. I will also determine what extra curricular subjects or activities will be covered. Each of my kids will have an outline created and I will create my short term goals for the year and re-address our long term goals to ensure we are on track. I will then create a homeschool budget and create a game plan to stay within that budget.

Once I have everything figured out on paper and typed up I print up a materials list. Since I plan in advance this allows me several months to purchase materials and gives me the opporutnity to get the best price. I love ordering books through sites like abebooks because I often find gently used books for a few dollars a piece. I keep this materials list on me whenever I am out because I have found resources at used bookstores, thrift shops and even garage sales.

Over the years I have found that this approach to homeschool planning works best for me but what works for me may not work for others. However you plan your homeschool curriculum make sure you make it fun, use it as a way to invigorate your homeschool and find out what your children think about their education and what they might be interested in learning.

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Best Catalogs for curriculum:

https://rainbowresource.com/catalog

https://www.bookshark.com/request-a-catalog/

https://www.sonlight.com/about/catalog/

https://timberdoodle.com/pages/free-catalog

https://www.nature-watch.com/online_catalog.php

https://www.christianbook.com/apps/catalog-request

https://www.libraryanded.com/request_catalog.html

The Terrible Teen Stage

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My oldest is almost 13 years old and he is a crazy, funny, unique individual but recently the terrible teen disease has begun to plague him. If you have a child between the ages of 11-13 who is exhibiting the following symptoms your child might also have this obnoxious disease.

  • Moodiness
  • Suddenly knows everything under the sun
  • Argumentative
  • Clumsy
  • Forgetful
  • Accident-prone
  • Strange odors emitting from body
  • Refuses to change clothing
  • Eyes rolling

 

In all honesty the terrible teen stage is not that different from the terrible twos with the exception of temper tantrums. So far I haven’t seen any signs that my 12 year will fling himself to the floor in fits of emotion but I will keep you updated on that situation. I survived the terrible twos so I am pretty confident that I can handle the terrible teen stage too but only time will tell.

This is such an awkward time for kids because they are in between childhood and adulthood and everything in life seems dire. It’s equally painful for us parents because we have to come to grips with the fact that our children are no longer little caterpillars. In fact they are going through the final metamorphosis to become full-fledged butterfly’s ready to make their way in the world. It’s a beautiful, awkward, and painful transition for both parties.

 

 

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Toddlers afflicted with the terrible twos act out because they are learning how to communicate and understand the world around them. Pre-teens and teenagers are attempting to do the same thing they are learning how to communicate, understand and participate in a world of adults all while dealing with the physical and hormonal changes brought on by puberty. I remember living through this stage of life and I wouldn’t go back if you paid me a million bucks.

Whenever the eye rolling or moodiness gets to me I do my best to remind myself of my own teen years. I draw on empathy, patience and my abundance of love for him to help me through the trying times. If your child is also going through the terrible teen stage remember to…

  • be patient
  • pick your battles
  • follow through on punishment
  • keep open lines of communication
  • help them set short term and long term goals
  • keep life simple when they are feeling overwhelmed
  • remember to tell them you love them often
  • keep an arsenal of room freshner on hand and a window cracked for fresh air

 

The terrible teen stage doesn’t last forever and with faith, love and family on our side we can get through any challenge life might throw our way.

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If you have survived the terrible teen stage let us know how you made it through!

 

 

It’s Never Too Early!

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It’s never too early to start home education, in fact, the best thing you can do for your little ones is to begin their education early. Even if you intend to enroll your children in a traditional brick and mortar institution you should still start them off with old fashioned home education. Many parents engage in home education without realizing that this is what they are doing but recently I have come across a large number of moms and dads who are passively raising their children. Instead of interacting with their children and teaching them ABCs, 123s, colors, shapes and other basic skills they are plopping their children in front of televisions and electronic devices. I know that this is the electronic age and I appreciate what technology provides us but I am disheartened that so many people are using technology to raise their children. Young children are the most receptive to learning new skills and this includes social skills. Sure you can download an App that will sing the alphabet to your child but this doesn’t provide the same level of education and it’s missing the social element. Children flourish only when they are being nurtured. Electronic devices can’t nurture and they do not provide the love and support that young children need and desire.

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Passively parenting your children not only hurts children but it hurts the parents as well. It prevents parents from making the deep connections with their children and as their children grow they will find it difficult to bond and to parent. We want our children to grow up in happy, healthy families where they feel love and are connected to their parents. This is the best way to secure a future of young people who are able to be compassionate, empathetic, and productive.

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You should be educating your children from day one in the early days this means simply holding them, singing to them and reading them stories. Talk to your little ones and tell them what you are doing and what your plans for the day are. They may not be able to communicate verbally but they are learning how to communicate. As your children grow they will be able to participate for instance when reading a story help them find objects on the page. Another fun activity for little ones is to give them a ball and an empty laundry basket to shoot hoops. Get out the bubbles and finger paint and let them make a mess and then show them how to clean up the mess. A lot of parents are nervous about kids making a mess but kids should be allowed to get messy.  I know that this sounds a lot like play but this is the best way to teach kids of any age. If you can make learning fun they will enjoy learning.

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In regards to the electronics, I am not completely against their use but I feel like they should be used rarely especially with very young children. My kids enjoyed Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when they were little but I wouldn’t just sit them in front of the television and walk away. Instead, I would sit down and watch the shows with them while singing the songs and doing the silly dances. These weren’t just moments to educate these were moments to bond and make memories.

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My favorite people to hang out with are my children and I enjoy spending time with them and learning with them. If you are passively parenting you are missing out on so many opportunities to make memories and bond with your children. You are also missing out on an opportunity to start your children off on the right path towards education. Children grow so quickly so it is important to be as present as possible and to teach them the skills they need to be independent, productive and loving individuals.

Check out my Early Homeschool board on Pinterest for fun ideas for your little ones!

 

***Quick Safety Reminder***

When planning activities for young children make sure that they are age appropriate and keep choking hazards up and out of reach.

Introducing Blackberry Ridge

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We are about to do one of the craziest things we have ever done in our entire lives. We are in the process of packing up our life in the Midwest and moving to our property in southern Tennessee. This past weekend we spent a few days visiting our property and mapping out our ideas for our mountain side homestead. This was my first time visiting Tennessee and I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. I was enthralled by the rolling landscape, the southern hospitality and the serene quiet of our little woodland property.

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We found this property just around Christmas time and fell in love with the pictures of the property. After a great deal of research and phone calls to ensure this wasn’t a scam we put down our deposit without actually setting foot on the property. Thursday night we loaded our little car up and made our first treck down to the property. When we arrived in Tennessee it was just after 7pm and after checking into our hotel we couldn’t help ourselves we had to see our property even though darkness had fallen. The drive out to our property was exciting but we were also feeling a bit uncertain. Once we arrived we got out and took in all that we could see with flashlights and the uncertainty grew. We went back to the hotel with heavy hearts not sure if we had made the right decision. Having lived in Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio we weren’t prepared for how hilly Tennessee really was and we were expecting our property to be a tad more level.

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After a long night of sleep we drove back out to the property to see what we had with the light of day. The second time viewing the property washed away all of our uncertainty. We fell in love with the property all over again and spent the day walking our property line and exploring our little wood. One of the things that I love about the property the most is the running stream there is nothing more soothing than the sounds of water bubbling over rock and stone. During our exploration we discovered a hidden pond full of aquatic life and a bubbling spring. This property is definitely wild and it is going to take a lot of work to clear areas for our house, gardens and chicken coop but I know in my heart that it will be worth it in the long run. A lot of people would walk away from this property because of the hard work needed to make this a livable spot but we are up for the challenge. In fact I have never been more excited to do anything in my entire life.

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While enjoying our future home we noticed some physical changes with ourselves and our children. Every one of us battles congestion and allergies and for us it is just the way of life but within hours of being in Tennessee our congestion cleared. My husbands dry eyes improved and our youngest kids who have “allergy shiners” lost their black eyes. In fact my daughter who is rather pale had a healthy pink glow that we had never seen before. The fresh mountain air is so clean and pure and obviously much healthier than the air we breathe in Toledo that I think perhaps our overall health will improve with this move.

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I am so grateful to have found this property and already I am accumulating ideas for our future home. We applied for an address and began kicking around ideas for naming our property. When we were exploring our property we kept getting tangled up in these rose bush like vines growing up around the trees. We weren’t sure what these were but after some online research we discovered that we have wild blackberries growing everywhere. This inspired the name for our property which will now be known as “Blackberry Ridge”. I can’t wait to go back down in a few months to harvest some of those blackberries and make a delicious jam.

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So as you can see this is pretty crazy moving our family hundreds of miles to a wooded property in Southern Tennessee. While it may be crazy we feel that God is moving us down this path and that this move will be the best thing for our family and especially our kids. We want them to have a safe environment to run, skip and play. We want them to learn valuable skills that will build character and make them appreciate the things in life that really matter. So while it may be crazy this will be an adventure that our family will remember for a lifetime. Our hearts are filled with hope and joy as we plan out the details that will help us down the path to “Blackberry Ridge”.

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Homeschooling on the Run!

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Have you ever had one of those days where you have your day planned out and then something happens and everything gets flipped upside down? Well, I have those days quite a bit, I feel like I am always on the go and sometimes this creates issues with my homeschool routine. Luckily over the years I have learned the value in flexibility and have learned how to homeschool on the run. This skill came in to play the other day when my brother needed a last minute babysitter for his little ones. I packed up my three kids and grabbed a couple of resources that I could use to finish out our homeschool lessons for the day.

I find that the best way to be ready for last minute emergencies or general routine upsets is to have a basket with resources that I can quickly grab. For instance, we are working on the American Revolution so I keep several books and handouts in the basket in case I need them. This basket is kept updated with books and resources that correspond to the topics we are studying. I also keep a few pencils and pads of paper in the car for moments when homeschooling on the run is necessary.

Another great resource for homeschooling on the run is YouTube. On YouTube, you can find a number of documentaries for free that cover a wide range of topics. You can also find educational cartoons, songs and you can even listen to books. I keep a playlist titled homeschool and whenever I find content that I know my kids will enjoy I add it to that playlist. Most cars these days allow you to connect your phone through the speakers via Bluetooth but if your car doesn’t have this feature you can invest in a wireless Bluetooth speaker that will play content from your phone or tablet. This is truly a great way to homeschool on the run and not only are your kids learning but they are being entertained as well.

I also like to engage my kids in lively discussion as we homeschool on the run.  This is a great way to see how much information they are retaining and to review pertinent information. You can also practice math facts and spelling words and trivia as you are going down the road. One day we were in the car for an extended period of time and I had the kids making up silly poems about random nouns. This was a lot of fun and we created some very interesting poems that day.

If you are in a season of life where you feel like you are constantly on the go and feel like your homeschool is suffering give homeschooling on the run a try. Find resources, games and audio content and keep them readily available for those days when life gets hectic. The greatest perk of homeschooling is that you can homeschool anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t matter if the learning happens at the kitchen table, in the car, on the beach or at the home of a friend. The only thing that matters is that you keep those kids learning even on the run.

green rice field

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Additional ideas for homeschooling on the run…

*listen to a podcast

*hear a book with audible or another audio book service

*madlibs

*educational dvds/cds

*listen to music… classical, jazz, big band etc.

*listen to theatrical plays

*learn a foreign language

 

There are so many great resources out there and most of them can be found for free. Have you found a great resource that would help others homeschool on the run? If so please share in the comments below.

In Remembrance

grass beside the sea

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A couple of weeks ago my cousin lost her fight with cancer leaving behind her husband, her son, daughter-in-law and her unborn grandchild. It’s never easy when someone we love passes away but it is more difficult when they pass away so young and with so much life to experience. But, I know that her legacy will live on and that her granddaughter will always be surrounded by her grandmothers love.

I remember the first time I met my cousin it was 1990 and I was six years old and a bit shy. We were attending our very first family reunion and this was my first time meeting my 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins. I remember feeling out of place and nervous meeting all of these new faces so I found myself a quiet place to hide. It wasn’t long before a pretty lady with sandy colored hair and glasses came and sat down with me. The first thing that stood out to me was that she didn’t speak to me like I was a baby she actually engaged me in real conversation and I remember that made me feel special. The family reunion was being hosted at her house so she gave me a tour and showed me where I could grab a pop from the coolers. She introduced me to her son who was about my age and her cat “bud” who I instantly adored. She made me feel welcome and she helped me join in on the fun everyone else was experiencing. Because of her the family reunions will always have a special place in my heart and in my memories.

Over the years we would meet again and again at family reunions, weddings, days at the beach and a few times her and her husband joined us for campfires at a local state park. I have a tendency to fade to the back and observe and she always pulled me into the thick of things making me step out of my comfort zone and for that I will forever be thankful. I remember one wedding we attended her and her sister helped me sneak into the men’s bathroom because the line to the women’s bathroom was wrapped around the building. They made sure the bathroom was empty and stood guard so I could go.  It’s such a silly memory but it still brings a smile to my face today. Later when I was a teenager the whole family met at the beach to play in Lake Michigan and ride ski-dos. I had never been on a ski-do and I kinda wanted to do it but being more reserved and shy I decided to sit on the beach instead watching everyone out their splashing through the waves. It wasn’t long before my cousin came along and whisked me over to her nephews ski-do she had arranged for his wife to take me out on the water. Somehow she knew I wanted to go out there and she made sure that happened even though I never voiced the desire.

She was the kind of person that always went above and beyond to make people comfortable and happy. She was the type of person that you could meet one time and you would always remember her kindness. I wish I had an opportunity to tell her how cool I thought she was and how thankful I was for her always including me in the fun. It always seems to happen that way we don’t realize how much a person has touched our lives until we are no longer able to tell them. It still amazes me how much one person can really touch your heart and it makes me realize the importance of every interaction we have with others. Every interaction is an opportunity to impact someone’s life in a positive way.

I will never understand why the ones we love are sometimes taken from us prematurely. I wish she had the chance to meet her granddaughter and I wish she had the chance to grow old with her husband who was truly her soul mate. The hardest part of dealing with death is seeing the pain in the eyes of those closest to the deceased knowing that there isn’t anything you can say or do to ease that pain. I pray that they are able to find peace in the memories she left behind and that as time moves forward they will be able to as well.

In honor of my cousin give someone you love a call and tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Be mindful of how you interact with others and try to leave a positive impression.

 

We Love Amelia Bedelia!

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As a homeschooling family we do a ton of reading and I am always on the hunt for books that will not only inspire literacy but a love for reading as well. I don’t want my kids to just be able to read I want them to adore reading as much as I do. Recently, my daughter started reading the Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish and I have had the opportunity to revisit these wonderful books. I have to say that they are still a favorite of mine and Amelia Bedelia will always hold a special place in my heart. It is so much fun watching my daughter devour these books and I love when she reads them to me  because our reading sessions are filled with laughter. These reading sessions remind me of when I was a little girl reading these books with my own mom laughing at Amelia Bedelia’s silly antics. I hope one day Madeline will share these books with her children and remember the hours of enjoyment we shared.

If you have never heard of Amelia Bedelia I encourage you to hit up your local library or bookstore. There are so many different stories in the series and each and every book is truly wonderful. I was excited to see that a set of chapter books has now been added to the series. Herman Parish is the nephew of Peggy Parish and he has continued the legacy of Amelia Bedelia for future generations to enjoy. While my daughter has really taken to these books my sons have also enjoyed the stories so these are great books for both boys and girls. The reading levels vary from easy to challenging and with the stories being so funny and unique my kids have challenged themselves just to see what she will do next.

I would love to hear what stories from your childhood you have shared with your own children? Did they enjoy the stories as much as you did?

 

Puberty Stinks!

close up of hand feeding on tree trunk

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Puberty stinks literally and figuratively! It all started back around Christmas time my husband and I noticed that an odd odor was coming from our oldest child who had just turned twelve. We purchased him his own supply of deodorant and explained the importance of personal hygiene. We expected the odor to go away but it only got worse this is when my husband took our son down to the health and beauty aisle a Walmart to purchase additional tools to battle the stench. They came home armed with manly soap, a large scrubby brush and a loofah. During their outing my husband again went over the basics of hygiene and we crossed our fingers and pinched our noses hopeful that we had won the battle. Unfortunately, we were not victorious and the stench continued in fact it seemed to get worse.

I really didn’t know what to do and I could tell that it was really beginning to bother him as well. Luckily, we didn’t have to worry about kids bullying him at school since he is homeschooled. Still this was a difficult situation for the entire family and it made simple things like car trips almost impossible. Finally, after months of battling this atrocious smell my father suggested that we try an antiperspirant instead of deodorant and he recommended a brand that he liked. I wasn’t super hopeful because at this point we had tried pretty much every product sold over the counter but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try one more product.

At first it didn’t seem to be working but now I can say with confidence that after several days of use my son now smells human. I can give him a hug without my nose and eyes watering and we can ride in the car without having to crack a window. This is why it takes a village to raise a child. It is so important to have people around you that you can trust to provide sound judgement especially in moments like these when your own judgement is being addled by a gruesome stench.

If you happen to have a pre-teen that is being followed by a similar odor I am here to tell you that it is normal and there is hope. Sometimes you just have to keep trying different soaps and deodorants/antiperspirants until you find the one that works best for your child’s personal chemistry. Just remember to keep air circulating at all times and never I repeat never turn on the heater in the car without cracking the window first!

 

 

Are You Interested In Running Your Own Business?

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Are you interested in not only running your own business but bringing in part time or full time income into your household? If the answer is yes I would like to invite you to join my Avon team. One of the reasons that I really enjoy running my Avon business is that I can grow my business online which means no door to door sales. It also means more time with my family and in fact my children are learning business practices watching me run my own business.

Selling Avon also allows me to enjoy discounts on products that I already purchase for my home like shampoo, bath soap and makeup. You are in control of your business and you can make your business a side hustle or a full time career. Avon provides excellent resources and classes that will help you build your business and achieve success. Along the way Avon offers great incentives and opportunities to earn trips to fabulous destinations.

As an Avon Representative you will not be pressured into recruiting and instead of a high pressure environment you will only find support. I am truly honored to work with so many great men and women and over the past few months I have learned a great deal and every day my business grows.

If you are interested in becoming a representative visit the link below to learn more and sign up to be a beauty boss. If you have any questions drop me a comment below and I will be happy to answer those questions for your.

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

 

Avon does NOT conduct animal testing.

We Survived the Polar Vortex

close up of snowflakes on snow against sky

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I am happy to say that we survived the polar vortex that swept through Northwest Ohio this past week. Today was a balmy 4 degrees and we are preparing for tropical weather on Sunday and Monday as temps are projected to rise into the upper 40’s and 50’s. After experiencing temperatures that dipped to -39 degrees with windchill; Monday’s 50 degree temp is going to make it feel like swimsuit weather. I am looking forward to getting my kids outside where they run off some energy because after being cooped up for a week cabin fever has begun to set in. Luckily we were able to stay busy with homeschooling, housework and thawing out our frozen water lines. We froze up not once but twice thankfully my hair dryer did the trick and we are able to get flowing again pretty quickly.

This past week wasn’t all work we did enjoy some quality family time where we enjoyed a few rounds of Monopoly, Life and Yahtzee. The kids have also been obsessed with John Candy movies so we watched Uncle Buck and The Great Outdoors two of my personal favorites. While I don’t enjoy being cooped up because ten minutes outside could result in hypothermia I did enjoy the memories made and the time spent together as a family. That being said I am ready for spring so we can enjoy time together outside in the sunshine. I can’t believe that once upon a time winter was my favorite time of year now I just can’t wait for spring.

If you experienced the polar vortex this week I hope you made it through unscathed and found a way to stave off cabin fever. Winter is not over just yet and I have a feeling mother nature has a few more tricks up her sleeve but keep in mind spring is only 46 days away. We can make it just keep thinking warm thoughts.

 

https://howmanydaysuntil.center/spring/#.XFUxrMFkcNg.wordpress

 

 

A Homeschooling Mom’s Stance on Abortion

adorable baby baby feet beautiful

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Many women like to argue that abortion is their right because they have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. Some argue that abortions are necessary to help women who have been victims of rape and incest. Others think that it is some sort of rite of passage and that all women should experience an abortion at least once in their lifetime. I find this not only troubling but down right horrifying that so many people are okay with women aborting their babies. In fact the state of New York just signed The Reproductive Health Act into law which allows women to abort their babies up to 24 weeks for any reason and up to the baby’s due date if the mother expresses a health issue like stress. I don’t care what the circumstances are abortion is murder and murder should be illegal.

Abortion statistics from the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute show that the largest number of abortions occur among unmarried women in their 20s. Less than 1% of women who underwent abortions reported being a victim of rape or incest as their reason for receiving the procedure. In fact most women who received the procedure reported that they were making the decision because the baby would impact their life path in what they felt was a negative way. Basically, they made a mistake and instead of taking on the challenge of motherhood they instead want to erase their actions with an abortion.

I believe that women have the right to make choices with their own body but abortion is not a choice it is an immoral act. If you are not ready for children for one reason or another then don’t engage in sexual activity abstinence won’t kill you I promise. Whenever you engage in sexual activity there is a possibility that you will get pregnant and you have a responsibility to carry that child to viability. If you don’t want to be a parent you can place your child up for adoption there are so many wonderful people out there who want to be parents.

I don’t believe that children are consequences. I believe that children are blessings from God. As a society we should be finding ways to help young people find the support they need to make good choices. Women need to set good examples for their daughters so their daughters can make good decisions about sexual relationships. Men need to set good examples for their sons and teach their sons that they have responsibilities as well. Hollywood actresses shouting their abortions shouldn’t be role models for our children instead they should be cautionary tales uses to teach life lessons. We need to teach our children that life is not a video game where you can just hit reset and start fresh. In life OUR CHOICES determine the path we take in life and we have a responsibility to accept the path and learn how to navigate the rough patches.

Abortion doesn’t stop you from being a parent it makes you a parent who decided that you were too selfish and scared to allow your child the right to life.
Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm

https://abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/tables/370305/3711005t3.pdf

https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46994583

 

I Made Cheese!

I love to learn new kitchen skills and I have been wanting to make cheese forever and finally found a simple recipe to start with. I was watching YouTube and one of the channels I subscribe to “Living Traditions Homestead” had a video on how to make farm cheese with three ingredients. In this video she uses raw milk to make her cheese but I ran to the store and grabbed a gallon of whole milk and her recipe still worked out perfectly. With three ingredients milk, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt you can make homemade farm cheese that is so tasty. I am going to link her video here if your interested in giving this a try, this is a great skill to have.

Even if cheese making isn’t your passion this would still be a great activity to do with your homeschool. Hands on experiences like these are invaluable.

** Helpful Note**

In her video she uses 1/2 cup of vinegar and I noticed after using the 1/2 cup of vinegar that my whey hadn’t fully separated from the curds. I did a quick search on the internet and found that you need to keep adding a little vinegar at a time letting it sit a little at a time until you see the whey fully separate. I ended up using a full cup of vinegar to make this happen.

The One Thing They Forgot…

snow sky clouds winter

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Last night Northwest Ohio was gifted several inches of fresh snow and my kids were itching to try out their new sleds they received at Christmas time. This afternoon with the sun shining above we set out to our local metro park to test out the sleds. We weren’t the only ones inspired to try out the sled hill and found ourselves surrounded by dozens of families outfitted for some winter fun. These parents took great care to prepare their kids for the winter weather so that they could stay safe and warm. Each child had on a nice winter coat, a cozy hat, mittens and snow boots. Some had fancy snowboards and some had old fashioned flying saucer sleds like my own three and a few had some homemade sleds that were quite impressive. Everyone was having a great time but then I began to notice that something had been forgotten. Something very important had been forgotten a lesson that all parents should teach their children so that they can participate in society productively….consideration.

When we initially arrived at the sled hill I reminded my children to pay attention to those around them. I advised them to walk up the side of the hill and stay out of the way as others were sledding downhill. We also discussed how to handle a situation in case they accidentally bumped into someone. Our discussion wasn’t new and to be honest I really don’t need to remind them at this point because over the years they have caught on how to behave in public (at home is a different story), but as a parent I feel obligated to remind them before setting them free on the public just in case memory fails them. Apparently, I was the only parent who had this conversation with their children as we saw children walking up the hill and even stopping in front of others who were attempting to sled downhill. We saw kids purposely aiming for other kids and unfortunately there was a group of young teens who decided that yelling expletives downhill was appropriate. I looked around at the smiling parents who seemed to be oblivious to how this type of behavior could cause injury. The only time I heard parents call out to their kids was to remind them to zip up or put their gloves back on not once commenting on their actual behavior.

As I was pondering whether I was over reacting or not I saw the most horrific incident. A teenager on a sled aimed himself at a three year old who was trying to get up from her sled. He hit the toddler’s sled in such a way that the three year old literally went airborne flipping up and over her sled and landing on her face. As I am running and inquiring if she is okay I hear the strangest noise behind me, laughter. Not only was the teen laughing but most of the parents and teens at the bottom of the hill were laughing as well talking about how funny it was that this little girl went flying up in the air. One 13 year old girl started yelling that it was worthy of “Funniest Home Videos”. The teen who had hit the young girl was busy getting high fives from his friends and parents yet never once stopped to find out if the little girl was okay. Luckily she was bundled up pretty good so despite the face full of snow she received she is okay but I can’t even imagine how scary that had to have been and then to have so many people laughing adding insult to injury.

My kids made me very proud when they rushed down the sled hill to see if the little girl was okay. Maybe I am over reacting but watching young and old delight in an accident that could have ended very badly was troubling. Parents take so much care making sure their kids are dressed warmly and that they are fully stocked with hot chocolate and snacks but never once thought to outfit their kids with kindness, compassion and consideration. I find it more than troubling that we live in a society where people are forgetting to be kind, compassionate and considerate. That we live in a society where parents model inappropriate responses to real life situations. As parents we have a duty to society to raise our children to be the productive members who will positively impact the world we live in.

What do you think? Am I over reacting? How would you have reacted if your child laughed while another child was injured? Let me know in the comments below because I would love to have others chime in on this issue.

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My Favorite Bread Recipe

hecticeclecticmama.com

There is nothing more comforting than the smell of freshly baked bread oh wait there is… eating freshly baked bread. Over the years I have tried so many different bread recipes and I have also created my own because bread is pretty simple it’s simply flour, yeast, sugar, salt and oil. You can play around with a variety of ingredients to customize your very own bread recipe or you can try my favorite bread recipe.

 

Homemade Bread

1 cup of warm water

1 tbsp of yeast

1/3 cup of honey ( you can also substitute sugar, maple syrup or even molasses)

2 tablespoons of oil

3-4 cups of all purpose flour

3 tsp of salt

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix together the warm water, yeast, oil, honey and 1 cup of the flour let this sit for about 5 mins in a warm location.

Add two cups of flour and sprinkle the salt over top using your hands or a wooden spoon to combine ingredients. At this point your dough may be a bit sticky you can add additional flour a little at a a time until you have achieved a smooth ball of dough. Let the dough sit for about 30 mins or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled I like to spread a piece of parchment paper on my table and then I use my rolling pin to roll it out into a flat disk. Using your hands fold the dough like a tight jelly roll tucking in the ends and firmly sealing the center.

Flip loaf over seam down and cut in 3-4 2″ deep slits so the bread can vent while it’s baking. Let your loaf rest for 30 mins or until it has doubled in size again.

Now that your loaf has doubled in size it’s time for it to go into the oven and bake for 35mins @ 400 degrees.

Remove dough from oven and allow it to cool fully this step can take an hour or two but it ensures that the bread finishing baking all the way through.

Slice your cool bread into slices and enjoy with your favorite toppings.

 

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Mother Nature Gave Us A Pop Quiz

island during golden hour and upcoming storm

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I can’t believe that we had 50 degree weather in Northwest Ohio in January but that is what we were blessed with today. I’m not complaining I am enjoying our unseasonably warm weather because I know that snow is soon to come. Anyways we were enjoying this lovely weather when the clouds began to move in and the wind picked up and the sounds of thunder rumbled across the sky. The kids were pretty tickled that we had a thunderstorm in January when we typically have snow storms. They began to watch the clouds move across the sky and mother nature showed us every variety of cloud over the course of a few minutes. The kids were naming off the different types of clouds we were seeing and we double checked them with a cloud chart to see if they were correctly identifying them. My kids did a pretty good job and all passed the impromptu pop quiz provided by Mother Nature.

This is one of the things I love about homeschooling we have the flexibility to stop working on something to watch the sky and discuss the weather. I love just living in the moment and watching my children delight in the world around them. Next time Mother Nature rolls through town see if your kids can identify the different clouds they see. Below you will find a link to a cloud chart provided by the National Weather Service. This is a great way to talk about a variety of weather topics including weather safety.

NWS Cloud Chart

https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/cloudchart

My Favorite Avon Products

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Hello, I wanted to take a few minutes and share a few of my favorite Avon products. If you were not aware, one of the ways I bring income into my home as a stay at home mom is selling Avon. I know that a lot of people have a poor image of multi-level marketing companies but I know first hand that not all MLM companies are created equal. I have many friends who make a decent part-time and full-time income running their own businesses selling makeup, candles, essential oils, and bath products. The secret to doing well in any business is a commitment if you are committed to making your business successful you will become successful. I was drawn to Avon because I love their products and it is easy to sell products when you can honestly stand behind their quality. Now that I have shared a little about why I sell Avon I will share with you my favorite products.

The first product that I love is the Anew Clinical Eye Lift Pro Dual System because it makes my eye’s feel refreshed and wide awake. If you’re looking for something to perk up your eyes then I highly recommend you check out this great product. The next product that I adore is Anew Hydra Fusion Gel because it is the ultimate moisturizer. This time of year my skin especially my face gets really dry but with this product in my cabinet, my face is feeling better than ever. Another great Avon product that I always have on hand or as the case may be under arm is our Roll-on Antiperspirant Deodorant.  I have super sensitive skin and over the years it has been a struggle to find an antiperspirant that is effective and gentle. This deodorant works very well and it is a favorite among my customers. One more favorite I would like to share is our Avon Flavor Savers Lip Balm it comes in three different flavors vanilla, strawberry, and melon. With this balm, you get tons of moisture with a hint of color and shine. Not only will you enjoy the flavor of this great lip balm but you will enjoy how long it will stay on providing hours of needed moisture. I always keep one of these in my purse and in the car for when my lips get a little too dry.

These are just a few of my favorite Avon products and believe me there are a ton more that I could rave about. If you’re new to Avon or you haven’t had an Avon lady in a while I encourage you to check out my online eStore to see all the different products that we offer. If you have any questions or your interested in starting your own Avon business send me a message and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

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My Online eStore

https://www.youravon.com/hecticeclecticmama

Anew Eye Lift Pro Dual Eye System

https://www.youravon.com/home/ordering/product-detail?dept_hiercy_id=324&prod_detl_id=42149&inm=srch

Anew Hydra Fusion Gel

https://www.youravon.com/home/ordering/product-detail?dept_hiercy_id=12302&prod_detl_id=62890&inm=srch#

Roll-on Antiperspirant Deodorant

https://www.youravon.com/home/ordering/product-detail?dept_hiercy_id=511&prod_detl_id=52506&inm=srch

Flavor Savers Lip Balm

https://www.youravon.com/home/ordering/product-detail?dept_hiercy_id=674&prod_detl_id=58933&inm=srch

 

 

 

 

Math: A Review of CTC Math

number cutout decors

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Recently, we started using a new math curriculum and after using it for a little over two months I decided to give it a review. Before I continue with my review I do want to state that I am not being sponsored by CTC Math and this is a completely unbiased review. For the past few years, we have bounced around through a few different math programs primarily using Modern Curriculum Press workbooks and other supplementary worksheets. This has worked pretty well but now that my oldest son is getting into pre-algebra I wanted to find something that would allow him to work independently and at his own pace.

Originally I wanted to set him up with Teaching Textbooks but after doing their free trial realized that this particular program wouldn’t work well for our family. First, the cost was much higher than I could afford and my son really struggled through the content not because it was too hard simply because it was not engaging enough. Looking for an alternative I stumbled across CTC Math and we signed up for the free trial. Not only did my oldest son love it my youngest two wanted to try it out as well. That day I signed up for the family homeschool membership which is $15.97 a month and now all three of my kids are enjoying this curriculum.

I highly recommend CTC Math because not only is it affordable, my kids can work through the lessons independently, but the content is amazing too. When they log in they click on the next available topic and watch a short lesson. The video lessons are short and concise and then they have questions to complete. When you set up your students profile you can choose how many questions they have to answer as well as what percentage they need to score to pass the topic. Once a week I receive an email from CTC Math with a look at their scores and an overview of what they worked on throughout the week. I can also log in at any time to see how they are doing and I can also print off additional worksheets for them to complete.

If you’re looking for a math program that is affordable and allows your children to work independently then I recommend that you take a look at CTC Math. Teaching Textbooks is an awesome program as well and while it didn’t work for my kids it may be a great option for your family. I love programs that allow you to test drive the material before investing so you can determine if it will work for your family.

 

CTC Math

https://www.ctcmath.com/trial

Teaching Textbooks

https://www.teachingtextbooks.com/v/vspfiles/tt/free_trial.html

 

**Disclaimer- This post reflects my own experience and opinions and is not being sponsored by anyone.

You CAN Cook!

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When my husband and I first got married almost 13 years ago I did not know a thing about budgeting or meal planning. This lead to us spending an exorbitant amount of money on groceries every week and put us deeply into debt. It took hitting rock bottom for me to realize that I needed to change the way we were doing things and this is when I began my education into home management. I realized that I needed to reduce our grocery budget and I had two options stop eating all together or make food from scratch. I enjoy food too much to give it up all together so I decided to start making as much as possible from scratch. It didn’t take long to see the benefit of making meals instead of buying processed food.

Over the years I have had people ask me how I am able to save so much money on groceries and when I explain how, I get the same token excuse, “I wish I could do that but I just can’t cook”. I have talked with moms who are spending $250 a week on microwaveable food because it is quick and easy but unwilling to try a different approach because they don’t think they can cook or simply don’t want to try. The truth is anyone can cook it just takes a little confidence, patience and motivation. The motivation part is easy if your trying to save money but I understand that confidence and patience can take a little time to acquire.

My advice is to start small don’t attempt to cook everything in your cookbook instead find a few simple recipes and practice those. Once you have them down you will feel more confident and with confidence comes patience. Soon you will be confident enough to tackle a variety of recipes. You may even find that you enjoy cooking because not only are you saving money but your feeding your family food that is actually good for them. Even if you don’t find enjoyment in cooking for your family you should still do it because like all chores it is necessary. Processed foods aren’t meant to be consumed at every meal despite what advertisers may tell us because they are too high in sodium, sugar, fat and too many chemicals to list.

Processed Food=Disease + Debt

If your grocery budget is out of control and your freezer is packed with frozen meals than this message is for you. In order to get control of your budget you need to scrounge up a few recipes and get into your kitchen. I know that it’s scary but in this wonderful world of technology you can find YouTube videos, blog post and Pinterest boards to help you navigate your kitchen. YOU CAN COOK! Your family will appreciate it, your health will appreciate it and you will appreciate the extra money in your pocket book. Start the New Year off with a plan to live better and feed your family better food.

 

 

 

Reading Shouldn’t Be A Chore

apple book break child

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When I first began my homeschool journey with my oldest son we continued a practice from his public school days which involved reading for 20 mins a day. It sounds like a great way to inspire literacy but I quickly began to realize that by forcing my kids to read 20 mins a day I was killing their desire to read. Every time I would say it’s time for you to sit down and read my kids would start to groan and complain. I love reading and I couldn’t understand why my kids weren’t enjoying a hobby that has given me hours of pleasure. I began to notice that they were complaining the same way they would when I would ask them to clean their rooms; I had inadvertently made reading a chore.

I didn’t want reading to be a chore. I wanted my kids to find reading an exciting activity that would whisk them away to far away places where they would have grand adventures. I decided to do away with the 20 mins of reading and I was worried at first that they just wouldn’t read and for a few weeks this did occur. I of course continued to read to them and they were reading their school work but not one of them cracked a book independently. Just when I was about to give up and add reading back to their chore list the most miraculous thing happened, they began to read independently. At first it was just my oldest who came down with the reading bug but within a few days my other two children had also caught the bug. Now it is a common occurrence to stumble across them not only reading a book but enjoying the experience.

Not all kids are created equal and what works for mine may not work for your’s but if you find reading has become a chore it might be time to try a different approach. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for my kids….

  • provide access to a large variety of books
  • do away with scheduled reading times
  • seek out content that you know will interest your kids
  • read as a family and share what you reading at dinner time

Even though I no longer assign reading I do take an interest in what they are reading and always make time to answer questions or help them with a word’s meaning. I often read through the books in advance and will ask questions to see if they are understanding the context of the story. While I have taken a more hands off approach with independent reading I am always ready to jump in when they need me and it is really working. The last tip I have for encouraging literacy is to read to your kids even when they are able to read chapter books independently. There is nothing better than curling up together and reading through a beloved classic and your kids are never too old to hear a story.

 

Saying Goodbye to 2018

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I can’t believe that the time has come to say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019.  We have plans for a big move near the end of 2019 so we will be working steadily on making this happen as smoothly as possible. We were hoping to make this move last year but life got in the way and we were derailed by some unexpected medical expenses. We are starting off 2019 motivated and excited about making our dreams of homesteading a reality. With faith and determination I am confident that this will be our year.

I know that many people start the New Year off with resolutions but I don’t intend to make any specific New Years resolutions. I am terrible at sticking to them so instead I am just reassessing my current short term and long term goals. I think that it is important to reevaluate your goals to make sure you are on track and moving in the right direction. What better time to reassess goals than the start of a brand new New Year.

Tonight we will ring in the New Year together as a family. We have a Hallmark movie night planned with hors d’oeuvres, scrumptious deserts and sparkling juice. We will be wearing silly hats, glow in the dark glasses and enjoying the whimsical sounds of noisemakers when the clock strikes midnight. We will happily say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019 and whatever adventure lies ahead.

Wishing you a happy and safe New Years eve and may all of your dreams for 2019 become a reality!

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

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Getting Ready For The New Year

The following blog post was written by my Mom (let’s call her Hectic Eclectic Grandmama). She has inspired me my entire life and I hope you will be inspired to kick off the New Year in an organized fashion.

Getting Ready for the New Year

With 2018 winding down it’s time to get my journaling materials together…

  • 5-6 notebooks (small enough to fit in my purse, I like 5″x7″)
  • a large supply of #2 pencils (the sharper the better)

I usually grab at least 5-6 notebooks with a total cost of approximately $12. I like these for their portability and this year I sewed a cute “pocket” purse for them.

 

Now I know many people think journaling is too regimented but I have adapted a freestyle approach. On New Year’s Eve, I sit down with paper and pencil and write everything I hope to do from home improvement ideas to garden plans. Journaling helps me focus on what’s important in my life as well. Each room gets a to-do list and when I accomplish a task I write down the date, but I don’t fret about what wasn’t done instead I transfer the task to my new journal at the start of the year. As the year progresses, I use my journal to record everything from grocery lists, a list of books I want to read, to recipes and craft projects I want to try.  I believe that journaling is the best form of therapy for me and helps me handle this chaotic thing we call life.

One more thing I like to do at the start of the New Year is to purchase a new broom for my home. It’s the perfect way to sweep in the New Year as well as some good luck too!

Happy New Year to you all!

Love Hectic Eclectic Grandmama

 

 

Check out Hectic Eclectic Mama’s Pinterest for Notebook cover ideas

https://pin.it/o62zpsdaxoyjxj

 

 

Merry Christmas

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It’s a little past 8 pm on Christmas day and the festivities are winding down. It’s been a hectic few days but we had fun celebrating this special holiday with our friends and family. My house is a mess, the dishwasher is ready to run for its third time today and I am feeling immensely exhausted (despite the 2 pots of coffee I have consumed). I am going to pull a Scarlett O’Hara and put my housework off until tomorrow and attempt a full night of sleep. While I am exhausted I am also very happy and so thankful for the memories we made this year. When my kids are grown I hope that they will look back and remember the joy that we shared as a family and that they will continue the traditions we have made with their families.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of love and laughter.

Merry Christmas!

merry christmas greeting photo

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Are they socialized?

 

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

christmas cookies

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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

 

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

christmas christmas decoration christmas lights christmas tree

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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!

white cup filled by coffee

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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. 

 

view of christmas decoration

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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:

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

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

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

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.

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word search_halloween_answers

 

 

Baa Baa Black Bat


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Photo by Rob Potter on Unsplash

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???

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

 

That’s Not My Baby Gender Reveal

Recently I was handed the responsibility of hosting a gender reveal party for my brother and sister in law. They wanted something simple but unique and after a great deal of thinking I finally hit upon an idea. I came up with a game where mom and dad had to hunt through the group looking for their baby.

I created 20 index cards featuring pictures of animals and a silly sentence explaining why that wasn’t their baby. For instance, on the index card featuring a baby lion I wrote “That’s not my baby it’s claws are too sharp”. One person in the group had an index card attached to the ultrasound picture with the words ” That’s my baby SHE is so perfect”. Each index card was placed in a brown envelope and closed with pink and blue ribbons. I attached the ribbons so that when they were pulled it was easy to open the envelope and uncover the index card. This worked out really well and even the little kids participating in the game were able to easily open their envelopes.

Since the day was nice and warm we chose to play this game outside and we had the entire family line up and we passed out the sealed envelopes. My brother and sister in law had to start picking family members one at a time to reveal what was in their envelope. There were a lot of laughs as people uncovered baby skunks, turtles and hippos. Finally, after going through most of envelopes they called on my sister in laws Grandmother to open her envelope. Grandma opened her envelope and immediately started to cry once she realized that she had the ultrasound picture. With a shaky voice she read out “That’s my baby SHE is so perfect!”. Everyone started laughing and crying with excitement and it really ended up being a lot of fun and super special.

Now prior to the party I had marked one of the envelopes with a heart on the bottom because I wanted to make sure Grandma was the one who got to make the announcement. How many Grandma’s get to tell their granddaughters whether they are going to have a boy or a girl? I am glad that this worked out so well and wanted to share this idea in case anyone else would like to use this for their gender reveal party.

For the record this idea was inspired by one of my kids favorite children’s books produced by the Usborne Publishing company. Usborne has a whole line of That’s Not My…. books for young readers. I think one of the first baby gifts that I will be giving baby girl once she arrives will be one of these books for her library.

Materials Needed

Blank Index Cards 1 for each guest

Two colors of ribbon

Small paper sacks or gift bags 1 for each guest

Images of baby animals ( I found a ton of these online through Pinterest)

Craft Glue

Permanent Marker

Hole punch

Paper Clip

Print off pictures of baby animals or you could even hand draw the animals on each index card.

Write out silly sentences for each animal picture starting each sentence off with “That’s not my baby it’s __________________”. Glue animal picture to the card.

Attach ultrasound picture with a paper clip to an index card with a sentence that says “That’s my baby (insert he/she) is so _____________” (If you are selecting a certain individual to receive this make sure to mark the bottom of the bag with a tiny symbol).

Cut strips of ribbon for the bags I did 6 inches of pink and blue for each bag.

Place index cards inside paper sacks or gift bags and punch a hole in the top.

Fasten 2 strands of ribbon to each bag and tie two knots to keep bags sealed.

Game Time!

Once you have everyone arranged either into groups or in a line have the expectant parents take turns selecting an individual to reveal what is in their bag. Individual selected has to pull there ribbon to open bag and than read off their card and show the picture they received.

Keep going until the ultrasound picture has been chosen.

If there are cards left you can have people read them off after the gender has been revealed.

As a special memento you can retrieve the cards and put them into a little book bound with ribbon.

This was super affordable I spent under $10 for all of the supplies and I purchased everything at my local Walmart!

Let me know what you think of this idea?

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The Importance of the Electoral College

i voted sticker spool on white surface

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Since our last presidential election in 2016 we have heard a number of politicians and media personalities discussing whether or not we should continue using the electoral college in our elections. Now it seems that discussion has turned to action as a number of democrats have gathered together to submit a measure to congress that would remove the electoral college in future elections.

The scariest thing about this is how many people especially younger voters seem to thing this is a great idea. They believe that by removing the electoral college that it will make the election process more fair. In my opinion this is the result of our poor education system in this country. The electoral college is in place to make the voting process as fair as possible by giving every state a voice in the election regardless of population. If this measure is approved elections would be determined by the popular vote which means that populous states like California, Texas, New York and Florida would hold all of the power. There would be no need for United States citizens in other states to vote because their vote wouldn’t carry the same weight if any weight at all.

Our founding founders devised the Electoral College because they wanted the voting powers to be equally distributed throughout the United States. While it may not be a perfect system it is the best way for each and every citizen to have their vote recognized and counted. I believe that removing the Electoral College will destroy Democracy in the United States and threaten the foundation this country was built upon.

I am very concerned about the state of our politics and our country in general. We have so many children graduating from high school without the ability to think critically, and without adequate knowledge of history and government. I have spoken with a number of teens and young adults who have expressed a desire to see the electoral college abolished yet can’t provide a reasonable argument to support their opinion. Schools are supposed to teach children HOW to think they aren’t supposed to teach children WHAT to think. This is  dangerous behavior because these children are being taught to think a specific way and then they go on to be voters.

Our future is dependent on our youth and all educators including those of us who homeschool; we have a duty to teach our children HOW to research, think and form valid arguments. Research and education will highlight the importance of the Electoral College in our voting process. The right to vote is an important one and it should never be done lightly because it is our civic duty to be informed and active participants in our government. That way we can “all” ensure that the values and rights established by our founding fathers in the Constitution can be upheld for generations to come.

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https://thehill.com/homenews/house/423810-dem-introduces-bills-to-eliminate-electoral-college-stop-presidents-from

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/senate-dems-introduce-bill-to-abolish-electoral-college

https://www.thenation.com/article/democrats-need-to-get-rid-of-the-electoral-college/

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