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.

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

 

Instant Oatmeal Muffins

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Did you know that you can use instant oatmeal packets to whip up delicious muffins? A few months a go my local grocery store had a great deal on instant oatmeal packets and I had a coupon that sweetened that deal. This resulted in me accumulating a large number of boxes in a variety of flavors. I like keeping these on hand because they make great snacks for the kids during the cold winter months. This past week I learned that they can also be used to whip up delicious muffins full of robust flavor.

My daughter loves blueberries and she had requested blueberry muffins for breakfast. I didn’t happen to have any blueberries on hand but I did have packets of blueberry instant oatmeal. I simply added the oatmeal to my go to muffin recipe and 20 mins later we had piping hot blueberry oatmeal muffins that disappeared at lightening speed. Since then I have used the following flavors with great success…. strawberries & cream, apple cinnamon, blueberry and brown sugar and cinnamon. I will post the recipe below for anyone interested in trying this out.

 

Instant Oatmeal Muffins

2 cups of flour

2 packets of instant oatmeal

3/4 cup of sugar

1 tbsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

1 egg

1 cup of milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup of vegetable oil or melted butter

Preheat oven to 500 degrees ( I knock the temp down to 400 degrees when I put the muffins into the oven)

Whisk dry ingredients together until they are fully incorporated. Use a spoon to hollow out the center in the mixture and pour in the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Use a spoon or fork to mix wet and dry ingredients together (be careful to not over-mix you just want ingredients to be combined).

Grease a 12 cup muffin pan ( I also like to line mine with cupcake liners for easy cleanup)

Fill each cup 3/4 full with the muffin batter

TURN DOWN YOUR OVEN TEMPERATURE AS YOU SLIDE YOUR MUFFINS INTO THE OVEN!!!

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 mins or until a toothpick can be pulled out clean from the center of muffin.

Makes 12 muffins.

 

Enjoy!

 

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.