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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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?

 

If my life was a game…

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If my life was a game it would be “Whack a Mole”. I feel like every time I can safely get my head above ground life comes by and gives me a good hard whack. Recently, I took a step back from a full-time schedule so I could adjust the balance of family, homeschool, and work. Unfortunately, my employer has decided to cut my entire departments hours so now while I am still working it’s not enough to really be a contribution. At the same time that my hours have been cut my youngest son, Daniel needs extensive dental work which requires quite a bit of money out of pocket to complete. I have spent the past few days trying to figure out what my next steps are in life and honestly, all I have been able to do at this point is give myself a headache.

I keep reminding myself that life is full of challenges and this is just another challenge that I need to overcome. Once I have made it past this little hurdle things will be good for awhile and I will be stronger for it. In the meantime, I am going to take this opportunity to focus on tightening our budget and reducing our overall expenses.

When life gets hard it’s important to give yourself time to process. I think it is perfectly okay to have a pity party as long as you limit it’s duration to under 48 hours. Once you have allowed yourself time to emotionally process the situation you can then look at things with a renewed perspective. Sometimes simply looking at things calmy can help you find the answers you are seeking. Another thing that has always helped me weather the storms in my life is to trust my faith in God. God has never let me down and even when things didn’t go the way I wanted them too things always have a way of working out.

How do you handle life’s challenges? If your life was a board game what would it be?