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

 

 

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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.

 

 

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

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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A Creeper, a Witch and a Scarecrow

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It has been almost two weeks since we celebrated Halloween and as always life has been a chaotic rush of events. It always takes a few days to recoup after a holiday and Halloween is no exception. You see we have this tradition of not buying store bought costumes instead I handmake each and every costume. This tradition started years ago when money was very tight and I had to think outside of the box for costumes. I realized that while my sewing skills are not seamstress worthy I could make an outfit that could safely be worn for a few hours. In fact, some of the costumes I have made over the years have held up for a decent amount of time so the kids were able to enjoy playing dress up with them.

This year was no different I worked around the clock for several days whipping up a Minecraft creeper, a witch and a spooky scarecrow. Every year the kids pick costumes that are more and more challenging and every year I question my sanity but in the end, it is worth it because of the memories made. We had a wonderfully mild Halloween which is pretty uncommon for us here in the Midwest. A typical Halloween for us involves trick or treating in high winds, rain/snow mix or even full-on ice rain. This is why whenever I make costumes I make them large enough to fit over winter jackets and snow pants that way everyone stays nice and warm and still they are able to show off their costumes.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween and that you have enjoyed some rest and relaxation as we propel into the Christmas season.

 

 

Fun Fall Science Lab

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fun, Free and Spooktacular!

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

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

 

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

word search_halloween

word search_halloween_answers

 

 

Happy October

close up photo of halloween decors

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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/