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

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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.

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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.

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?

 

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

 

 

My Favorite Bread Recipe

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

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!

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