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How to Enter Indiana State Fair: County 4 H Fair

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What to Know for 4 H Club 

How do I enter the Indiana State Fair? Want to know, we've got answers and all details of what to expect during your first year of 4 H. Enjoy!




How to Enter Indiana State Fair: County 4 H Fair
How to Enter Indiana State Fair: County 4 H Fair.


When  I was kid, I won first prize at the county fair for a giant Sunflower head. It must have been in open class, because I wasn't in 4 H at the time (that I recall). I entered some art projects too, the goal was to make it to the Indiana State Fair. I don't remember the results. I've had a few things on display at the fair since then.


How to Enter Indiana State Fair: County 4 H Fair
Bumble Foot Poultry Poster, Reserve Champion.


For several years, I worked at a living history museum. We presented various items at the State Fair. But when it came time for my kids to enter the fair, I was at a total loss. Memory failed me. How do you enter the Indiana State Fair? Do you have to be in a 4 H Club? Well, yes and no. It isn't as difficult as I made it out to be, but it isn't easy either.


What to Know for 4 H Club
Small Engine Poster, Champion.


As homeschoolers, we joined a local county 4 H Club in 2013. I wanted the kids to have some sort of extra curricular activity and interaction with other kids their own age. We pulled out all the stops. In other words, we did it the hard way. I'm writing this so you don't have to jump through hoops to have a State Fair experience.  To me, 4 H meant animals, so we got some chickens and ducks.


What to Know for 4 H Club
Chicken with Bumblefoot.


That first year, we were very unprepared to present. We were just so confused. Our club is made up of mostly homeschoolers. At the monthly meetings, you learn about activities that you can present at the county fair. Projects and animals that win at the county fair (Grand Champions) get a pass to the State Fair. This doesn't mean you have to enter the county fair to get to the state fair, but it makes things a little easier and more likely that you'll place. You can always enter in OPEN CLASS. You can do this at the county fair too.


Rooster crowing contest, judges and contestants

Roosters crowing to win.

During the Rooster Crowing Contest, their were older gentleman participating next to kids as young as eight years old. There were avid gardeners competing against my son's garden project.


Hear them crow?

Not much crowing activity.


There's a lot to consider when deciding what to enter. You can enter almost anything! In fact, there is even a project category entitled, Create Your own Thing.


Lemon Thyme, Honor Group.


The most popular categories seem to be cake decorating, recipes, and household pets. The lines for entry were long.



This looks like a good place to sit. Baby bunnies were for sale at the fair.

We were so nervous that we did nothing our first year. We acted as observers. Our second year, we decided to pick some projects, but had no idea what to choose. We settled on: Gardening, Small Engines, Recycling, Poultry, Cats, and Create Your own Thing.


Check out the frozen water bottle used as an air-conditioner.

How to Enter Indiana State Fair: County 4 H Fair
Love these bunnies! Jersey Woolly. I used to have one just like this His name was Yoda.

There is no cost to be in the club. Meetings start in August and run through May. However, if you want to participate in the fair, you'll need to officially sign up. The fees are project based. We paid $15 per child, plus project handbooks. If you have more than 3/4 you pay a flat family rate of $45. The books costs 2-5$.

We attended every meeting that first year. I always felt completely lost. I was so worried I was doing it all wrong. When it came time to turn in our completion cards for official documentation, I thought we had to have our projects completed. We weren't ready. Some of our projects had group leaders and meetings, but others never had a formal activity. I think this is largely based on availability of volunteers. Our group leader could only point us in the directions of the extension office or a name of someone she knew who had been in charge of particular club in the past. 

For example, we never heard anything from anyone about small engines. It turns out, that's okay. As the parent or caregiver, you can be in the "coach" you can help guide the activities and sign the project manuals. If you don't feel comfortable, you can also find someone in your life that is skilled in that area to act as a mentor. Lucky for us, we had a Daddy who knew a thing or two about engines. The books aren't easy, but don't be afraid to ask help from your friend, Google.

Unfortunately, when it came time to get our records approved, I got confused again. I heard that the projects didn't have to be done by then (though they should) which translated to I didn't need to take our project books with us. I was so frustrated by all of the requirements and lack of formal guidance that after waiting in line for over an hour for approval,  I gave up. The leader was very kind and offered to meet us another time and place but I had a hard year and life was just too much for me. We didn't even turn in our record sheets. So, we lost a whole year of "official" 4 H service. 

We have the experience, we can say that we've been in 4 H since 2013, but there are no official records and when it comes time for a five year pin, we'll be a year behind. So, this year, our second year, we'll be honored with our first year status. I was more upset than the kids. They didn't care. They don't care. That day, all they cared about was getting out of the heat.

So, year two rolled around and I was determined to see it through. We attended all meetings again. We kept track of emails and snail mail correspondence, but I still felt like something was missing. I'm still trying to figure out how to join Archery Club. Apparently, I take things a little too seriously. 

What I found was that each club has its own set of rules, each club leader his or her own level of seriousness about the project. The Poultry Project requires attendance at all meetings. It is essential to learn everything you need to know about caring for the animals at the fair and testing for illness. 

Cat Club. Not so much. The first year, we didn't get the paperwork for the entry until it was too late to enter. The next year, we got it, but decided against it. The club doesn't even meet until  just before the fair. We felt lost, but we weren't. After much consideration, we decided none of our cats would be good contestants. We did order a cat club t-shirt and make it to the Cat Show. It was very laid back.

So, how does or should the process go? Here's a quick run down, so you'll know what to expect at the County Fair.

Join your local 4 H Club --- or your favorite club. We live smack in the middle of 3 clubs, so we picked our favorite.

Attend fun cub meetings once per month. Learn about 4 H, play games, and make friends.

Don't worry about anything in the fall.

In the Spring, think about what you want to enter in the fair or an activity you would enjoy.

Go to 4H online.  Find the 4H handbooks for various projects.

Sign up for a few projects by the deadline.

Check for emails and snail mail from group leaders. If they don't come, check the monthly 4 H newsletter for meeting details or club events. 

Attend these! While you are attending, complete your project workbooks. Have your parent or a club leader (they'll probably tell you that your parent can do it) review and check your work.

Meet with your local club leader. Make sure you have completed the correct amount of activities in your project workbook. In most cases it is 6 per year. One book is good for 1- 3 years. Your leader will review it and mark it completed on your record sheet.

MAKE SURE to bring the RECORD SHEET to this meeting.

If you are doing posters or other projects do not bring them to this meeting. This is only for project manual completion and attendance at meetings.

Based on what you've done and learned in your project manual, you'll be growing a plant, caring for an animal, sewing, cooking, drawing, painting, photographing, or making a poster detailing how to do something. For the guidelines, you'll need to refer the 4 H HANDBOOK - this is NOT the same thing as the project workbook. That's why, the workbook will make you crazy trying to understand what is required for fair entry.

READ your Handbook carefully. There are lots of rules. For example, plants can't be older than 4 months -- read carefully, each plant specimen may have its own guidelines. We followed the rule, but my son got confused and said he transplanted in March. It was end of May. March was too cold, but he almost got disqualified for being confused! Lucky he didn't, because his plant got a blue ribbon and landed in Honor Group.

So, we got our records turned in with or club leader, we got or tags and parking passes, now we were ready to roll.

All we needed to do was complete our projects. We had already decided what they'd be about. They were floating ideas in our heads, but we never seemed to find the time to start them. So... two days before they were due at the fair, we were working on them in a frenzy. 

The kids reviewed their project manuals, came up with a topic, did some research online, took some photos, and then wrote some text for each image. 

We missed some important details for the poster requirements. Pay attention to the size, the backing, the recommended size for the title... all of these things are considered when you meet with the judge.

Meet with the judge??? I am somehow still misinformed!!! So, when you arrive to check-in your project be sure to arrive on time. There will be lots of people from all of the cities of your county. Go at your time. Expect to wait in the check-in line and then in the line for each individual project. No worries. You just move from place to place as you complete the judging process. Look for the shortest lines.

I thought we were just turning in projects. We were, but they are judged at the same time. This isn't the official judging. This judge reviews your project and tells you how well you did and how you could have done better. 

This gives the kids the experience of presenting their work.

They give tips for your next project entry and then they give you a blue ribbon (first place) or a red ribbon (honorable mention). Seems like their was a small pink one too, but I don't know what that one meant.

Somehow, we got 3 blue ribbons for 3 projects. The kids felt like they cheated, because we'd been lost for so long and then did the project at the last minute. 

Blue ribbons? Everyone must get blue ribbons? Well, most do, but some don't. Particularly, if you have an animal - they have to meet the minimum requirements for the blue ribbons. 

So that's that? We won? Of course not. That WAS too easy.

Now, you go home. The next day, you come back to see how you did with the official judges. For indoor projects, you don't see this judging until it is all done. 

We came back to all sorts of fun ribbons! We had big, purple honors group ribbons. A big pink reserve champion and a big purple champion. 

Pink Reserve Champion means you placed second in your  age group or class.
Purple Champion means you placed first in your age group or class.

Honors group means you are in the running for reserve or grand champion (I think, I'm still a little confused because two of their projects got honors group ribbons, but the one that made champion didn't get an honors ribbon, I'm thinking it fell off, got stolen, or overlooked. When we returned to pick up the projects the champion without the honors ribbon had a sticker stating that it had been chose for the fair.

It is my understanding, that to be considered for the fair, you have to make it to honors group.

The bottom line... we had 3 STATE FAIR worthy projects. One got chosen.

We didn't get an orange tag for a free ticket to the 4 H banquet, but based on everything I read, I think we should have got one for each champion, I'll be sure to confirm next year. By the banquet, we were faired out anyway and didn't want to drive back another day - we live 30 minutes away.

So, we have one more thing to learn about the county 4 H fair next year. Plus, finding those archery/shooting club sports meetings.

Now, for the STATE FAIR. The paperwork said if you received a sticker for the State Fair you should stop by the fair extension office during the fair. We didn't have a sticker until we returned on Saturday and then the office was closed. I stressed some more. Then, I called Monday. The office let me know, that they were sending STATE FAIR packets out in the mail by Wednesday. Hope it doesn't get lost. It will tell us what we need to do for the state fair entry.

She let us know that our projects had to be at the fair by Sunday evening or Monday morning. I wonder if we'll meet judges again? It this just a drop off? We'll keep you posted.






ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)


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Never Underestimate the Power of the Silent Majority: Lora's Law #13

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Lora's Law #13: Never Underestimate the Power


You feel like you are the only one. No one else thinks the way you think. Everyone else makes derogatory comments. Everyone else passes secret smirks to each other when you admit your feelings or beliefs. You're afraid to come forward and admit the truth. You don't want to be shunned by society or made the fool. Then, something happens that shocks them... and you. You weren't the only one. You were just the only one brave enough to take the flack for your inner feelings. Right? Never underestimate the power of the silent majority and then go share this Lora's Law quote. Enjoy!


Never Underestimate the Power of the Silent Majority: Lora's Law #13
Never Underestimate the Power of the Silent Majority: Lora's Law #13,

Have you ever been in the silent majority? I always feel like the only one in the world who thinks the way that I do. Back in the early eighties, I was already a hard core Michael Jackson fan. Think over the top. Lived, breathed, dressed. Everyone at school and my family teased me. Everyone called him names. They acted like I was a crazy person for liking the incredibly talented musical artist. 

Then, one by one, the records became number one on the charts. He became the best-selling artist of all time. I often wondered who else was buying those albums since very few people were admitting to it. It was a small town. There were racial prejudices. I guess they were just afraid?

In the past, I never shied away from my beliefs. Now, I do. I'll be vague on my political beliefs. Heck, I am vague on my political beliefs. There are lots of loudies out there. They scare me. I'll just sit back silently and watch it unfold.

I'm from Indiana. We're a red state. When Barack Obama won Indiana, I fell out of my chair. 

The Republicans (and the Democrats) were all against Donald Trump. Everyone makes fun of him. Everyone says he is crazy. Now, he is an official Presidential Candidate. Did you see that coming? I didn't.

Don't assume he won't be President. I assume he will. If you don't like that, you better vote. You do have power. There was a silent majority for him, maybe there is a silent majority against him? 

Are you from Great Britain? Brexit. That was a shocker. 

Lora's Law #13:  Never, ever, underestimate the power of the secret majority.



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ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)
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Dory Bathroom Decor Ideas for Kids

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Got a Finding Dory Fan? Decorate Your Bathroom in an Under the Sea Theme


Got a little one who is a big fan of Nemo or Finding Dory? If so, you'll want to decorate your bathroom in an under the sea theme. These fish decor ideas make perfect Dory bathroom decor ideas for kids. Enjoy!


Dory Bathroom Decor Ideas for Kids


So, we've got SpongeBob fans who are even bigger carnival games fans. You know, pop the balloon with a dart, pull a duck out of a baby pool, toss a ping pong ball in a fishbowl. What do you do with all of those tiny little stuffed animals? We give a lot to Goodwill, but we always have a fresh supply. When we moved to our new (old) house I noticed a fish switch plate, so decided to go with an under sea bathroom theme.




Notice our SpongeBob is pink? He's a special stuffy for Breast Cancer Awareness. We just couldn't give these guys up- each one of them is a special memory from a fun, family vacation or holiday gift.




These are easy to hang with fishing line or kite string. Attach the string to the stuffed animal with a straight pin and then use an office push pin to hang it from the ceiling. I wrapped one end of the string around the pin and then made sure to poke through the end of the string when I poked the pin into the ceiling.





So, there's a story or two here. We have ducks. We like ducks. We have Guppies. The guppy cross-stitch was created by me in 1987!  I guess it is my modern form of a stitch sampler. The many ducks came from my son's first bathroom when he was only one year old. The biggest duck is a stuffed animal that is coated in a scented wax and serves as a room freshener.  How to make a wax stuffed animal room freshener.

Before we moved, we had a powder room decorated in a whimsical Winnie the Pooh theme. I made a border around the wall with rubber stamps and stencils and then colored it in with pastels. I couldn't let it go, and now most of the Pooh decor is in my kitchen. 

Yep, whimsy would probably be a good word to describe me. Do you have a fun bathroom decor idea? Share it with us in the comments.


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ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)
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Lora's Law #12: People Don't Mean What They Say Quote

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Just Because You Say What You Mean...

As I age, life gets easier. I've begun to understand that no two people are alike. I'd always assumed that when people say something mean or cruel about you, they believe it. Why would they say it otherwise? It has taken me decades to realize that other people don't mean what they say.

I do. If it comes out of my mouth, I believe it to be true. That's why you'll never hear me say, You're ugly! Never. I'd have to believe it to say it. If I believed it, I couldn't say it. You can QUOTE me. I mean, the truth hurts, right? Lots of people say terrible things that they don't mean. They'll say anything to get out of a situation, to hurt your feelings, or to get you to be quiet. Never mind it how it makes you feel, they'll apologize later. Lora's Law #12 is all about how people don't say what they mean. Enjoy!

Lora's Law #12: People Don't Mean What They Say Quote
Lora's Law #12: People Don't Mean What They Say Quote, don't take it to heart.

Lora's Law #12: "Don't take it to heart! Just because you don't say it unless you mean it, doesn't mean everyone else does. People lash out. They don't mean it!"

It has been a difficult journey. Especially to forgive those who have said cruel things to me. It doesn't matter to me if they say they were only teasing. If you say something about someone that is true... You're fat, or that they perceive to be true, you're stupid, the damage is done. Even an apology won't fix it.

I've found myself in awkward situations. I felt the need to tell someone something that they didn't want to hear, but that they needed to hear. They don't care if it comes from a good place or that you are trying to help them. They only hear you pointing out something that is wrong or imperfect. Likely, something they are already ashamed of in the first place. They rarely take a deep breath and think about it the why. They rarely see the good in what you are saying- at least in the moment. 

Nope.

They often retaliate with something completely unrelated, irrelevant, and cruel. Oh yeah? Well, you're a big, fat doody head! 

It is your turn to breathe; let it go. I promise, you're not a big, fat, doody head. Just ignore it! Don't make the terrible mistake of calling them a big dumb stupid head!

Later, they feel like a jerk. They probably are a jerk or they wouldn't do that in the first place, but don't call them a jerk. Nope, not even if you are calling it like you see it. Stick to your guns; don't say it unless you mean it. And, never, ever resort to name calling- even if it is true. Especially, if it is true. Be nice. Be better. Be Elsa. (Let it go.)


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ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)


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Beach Theme Pool Party Ideas for Teens and Tweens

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Sweet Sixteen Pool Party Decorations and Ideas

Planning a pool party for a sweet 16? A beach themed pool party is a lot of fun! It can be difficult to plan a birthday party theme for teens and tweens. Even if you don't have a "real" pool you can have a pool party for a sweet 16 birthday party. Just get an inflatable pool (or two) and add lots of fun decorations and beach themed food. We love planning parties with The Oriental Trading; they are our go to spot for summer fun. They have the most fun decorations at the best prices. So, have the best pool party ever for teens or tweens with these pool party activities, food, and fun decorating ideas with a pink and green flamingo theme. Enjoy!

The Oriental Trading compensated for this post by allowing us to choose our favorite merchandise for an upcoming birthday party.*



Beach Theme Pool Party Ideas for Teens and Tweens
Beach Theme Pool Party Ideas for Teens and Tweens.





Every beach party (especially one for girl's or my son whose favorite color in hot pink) needs some pink beach theme party supplies like flamingos. OT has the perfect beach themed pool decor: flamingo straws, inflatable flamingo cup holders for the pool, flamingo lights, flamingo pinwheels, and flamingos for the yard!


flamingo beach theme party supplies
Stick these in the yard and make a flamingo obstacle course!




flamingo beach theme party supplies
flamingo party lights


Flamingo Pink Pin Wheels Party Decorations
Stick these in the food display or line a walkway with them.





















Pool Party Ideas for Teens and Tweens


For your beach party theme, you will need a pool. If you don't already have one, get an inflatable pool. Once you have a pool, (or three) you'll need to get beach theme pool party decorations and games. We like to purchase tons of inflatable beach balls and cover the pool with them. They make great party favors to take home, and the guests will enjoy playing with them  throwing them at each other's heads.






These beach balls are a fun activity for kids of all ages. Grab some Glam Sharpie Markers and color your own beach ball! These would be fun for a Dory and Nemo theme party too! Another fun pool activity is to get a bunch of swim goggles and play underwater games for the pool.



underwater games for pool



Squirt gun painting is a fun pool party activity too. Be sure to get lots of squirt guns! Get the directions at Fireflies and Mudpies.


squirt gun painting
How to paint with squirt guns by Fireflies and Mudpies.


paint with squirt guns



Decorate the serving table with fun beach themed party lights and use sand pails to serve the food and drinks. To match the flamingo beach party theme, get solid color tableware in pink and green


green paper party supplies hot pink paper party supplies


serve food in sand pails for beach party


serve food in sand pails for beach party













You'll want to get super fun party favors for teens and tweens. Along with the take home beach balls, get these pre-prepped beach theme party favors on the Oriental Trading website. They pair nicely with your beach theme pool decor from above.

beach theme party favors
Beach theme party favors.


Beach Theme Party Food

Whatever beach theme party food you serve, serve it up in colorful beach pails like the ones below.




Beach theme party food is easy to make. Make these sand dollar cookies from Mama Miss before the party or with the teens. Aren't they amazing? You might also like these sand castle cupcakes.




How adorable are these beach theme flip-flop sandwiches from Pretti Mini?


beach theme party food flip flop sandwiches for tweens and teens
Beach theme party food: flip-flop sandwiches.

Do you have pictures from a beach theme party for teens or tweens? How about fun recipes? Share in the comments!



ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)



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Make a List Quote: Lora's Law #11

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Quotes to Remember: Make a List

A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter. A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter. A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and, ooh, chocolate! A loaf of bread, a container of- what's this? It looks like some kind of new ice cream. Okay, I got the chocolate, the ice cream... what did we come here for? Oh, yeah, a loaf of bread. This is me shopping with the kids. I need butter to make cookies for a bake sale. I often make lists on paper. They stay at the house or in the car or sometimes wadded up in my purse. As soon as I get home and get to work, I remember what I really went the store to get. Yesterday, it was duct tape. Lora's Law #11 is all about making lists. This quote is to remind us that we need to make lists and remember to read them!!! Use your phone. Enjoy!


Keep scrolling for the Sesame Street cartoon: 
A Loaf of Bread, a Container of Milk, and a Stick of Butter.

Quotes to Remember: Make a List Lora's Law #11
Lora's Law #11: Make a list!


For some reason, this was always one of my favorite Sesame Street clips: 
I Remembered, a Loaf of Bread, a Container of Milk, and a Stick of Butter.





Lora's Law #11

"Make a list. It never fails, you'll remember why you went to the store on the way home!"


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Get a Loaf of Bread, a Container of Milk, and a Stick of Butter*















ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products.

*We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)


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Open Letter to Future Homeschoolers: Free Homeschool Lesson Plans Curriculum

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Free Homeschool Lesson Plans and Curriculum Resources We've Tried

Disclaimer: This is my homeschooling journey story. To avoid my open letter to future homeschoolers and the homeschool haters, just scroll down to the bottom for the free homeschool lesson plans and curriculum resources. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Enjoy!


Open Letter to Future Homeschoolers: Free Homeschool Lesson Plans Curriculum
Open Letter to Future Homeschoolers: Free Homeschool Lesson Plans Curriculum.

Should you homeschool? Deciding to take a homeschool journey is scary. Okay, terrifying! It doesn't help that people all around you are shaming you for it. They are telling you how weird it is. How wrong it is by saying things like: You'll make your kids weird, They won't have any friends, I'm just worried about socialization.

Is that REALLY their concern? You can do it on your own with a free online public school, or with the aid of homeschooling websites that keep records of lessons and attendance. After I vent a little, I'll share some of our favorite homeschool resources for lesson plans, curriculum, and online learning opportunities.

If you are going to homeschool, you will need to have a thick skin and lots of self-confidence to help you survive the homeschool haters and the sadly misinformed loved ones.

Here's my homeschool journey story with my random thoughts on the matter:

Those non-homeschoolers. I think they're worried that people will think it's strange or it's wrong. I think they think that I am screwing my kids up for life. I think they're worried about how they will explain it to others. How they will justify the decision when talking to other people they know? If it weren't for perfectly well-meaning adults, homeschooling would be far less stressful. It's embarrassing for them to think that someone they care about is doing something so off the grid. Those shaming you aren't the only ones afraid that you will screw it up. You will always be second guessing yourself.

Don't worry, you can do it! You don't have to be a genius, a teacher, or even very good an any subject. You just need a willingness to learn, a big dose of patience, and a bigger dose of perseverance.

You always have to be on your toes, and so do your kids. You never know when another question is going to come out of left field. You never know when another "loved one" is going to shame you or your kids. You will probably live in fear that they will decide that you aren't doing a good job and report you to the "authorities." You'll worry, that the authorities, no matter how great a job you've done, will side with "the man." It is better for kids to be in schools, because each seat filled means $ for the school. Never mind the consequences to the child. Never mind, that in my case, the school (a teacher) was the first one to suggest the idea of homeschooling.

I will check this post again and again, and still there may be typos. I can hear it now, "Wow, she homeschools her kids and she can't grammar properly." (That's a little joke the kids and I like to make.) Truth is, you don't have to know everything about everything to be a successful homeschooler. If your kids are weird, it is because your kids are weird. You are probably weird too or at least slightly outside the parameters of "normal." That's better than okay. Normal is boring.

People, don't blame homeschooling! Poor homeschooling. What has it ever done to you?

I like to think of myself as progressive. A think-outside-of-the-box-er. People often talk to me about conformity for my children. This blows my mind. They want to make sure my kids are conformist or at the very least, that they know how to conform. I think this is where the biggest breakdown between homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers comes into play.

I don't want my kids to conform to societies norms. I don't want them to have a set idea of how their life is to play out: go to school, go to college, work 9-5 to keep food on the table, retire, die. That's fine for you, if that is your dream life. Well, as a matter of fact, that's fine for my kids if that is their dream life, but I want them to know, it doesn't have to go that way, if they don't want it to go that way.

Every year, I ask if they want to go to a public brick and mortar school. It's their choice. We make the decisions together. After reviewing the state of our homeschooling last year, I asked the question, "Online public school, public school, or online homeschooling resources?" They vetoed public brick and mortar school, but they both told me that if I felt they needed to go to public school they would willingly attend an online public school again. Currently, the verdict is still out, we'll probably sign back up for Time4Learning (affiliate link).

We've been doing Life of Fred* with Mom paired with unschooling (Montessori style), Khan Academy, Brainpop, and other online activities. Each week, on this blog, I try to plan and share an online lesson that they have to complete in addition to the other activities.

The biggest obstacle to my dreams has always been the conformists. "You can't do that, do you know how many people actually succeed at that?" "You'll never accomplish that; I'm afraid if you set your goals too high, you will feel like a failure." Say what? I won't. I will only feel like a failure if I don't try to do something that I dream about doing. Be everything I can be and all that jazz.

My mother states that I once was a conformist. She is sad to think that somewhere something went wrong. Sure, I used to do things that I was told to do, because I thought I had to... I did have to. There weren't other options. I had big ideas, but they weren't options. I wanted to do other things. Let's say, I didn't take the opportunity when it presented itself. I thought I couldn't. I felt trapped in a life that was stagnant. I didn't like it. I had tried to live out those conformist ideals, but they weren't for me.

I went to public school. I applied, got accepted, and graduated from Ball State's School of Architecture. As a double major, I studied Technical Theater the whole time. It's a pretty big deal ( to a lot of people) to be accepted to study architecture. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Oh, why are you doing that! If I had a degree in architecture, I'd be using it. I'd be an architect." or "I always wanted to be an architect."

I was born to act and to create things. Not skyscrapers. Not cookie cutter houses, just things!


Do you worry that your kids won't be able to go to college?


Did you go to college? Did you graduate? I don't care. Since I did attend college, I think I feel differently about it than those who didn't or couldn't. You know, it is that feeling of missed opportunity. The mourning of what might have been. I don't have that. Architecture was never my thing.

I just thought, that's what you do. You go to college after you graduate high school. My parents had told me that my entire life. You see, they didn't go to college. The opportunity didn't present itself. I was the first one to go to college. That was special. I was proud, but it wasn't my favorite thing. I would do it differently if I had it to do over again. You can bet on that. What I'm saying is, I don't think college is for everyone. Everyone doesn't need to go to college. There are many ways to gain valuable career skills- college is just one way.

I am grateful for that opportunity. That time meeting people who thought in a similar way that I did, who had big dreams with no doubts, who, even in their most conforming outfits or tennis shoes, were still non-conformists in thinking- I'd never lose that from my dossier. It helped me discover that I could be me, even if I was slow to the party. It took a long time to let go of twenty years of conformist teachings.

I worked to find ways that I could be a non-conforming conformist. Get a job, a real job. Well, what's a real job to one person, isn't necessarily a real job to another person. Eventually, I took a 9-5 at a living history museum. I acted (interpreted), I sang, I baked bread, I swept floors, and I rode horses. What I didn't do was make a lot of money. It didn't matter. I loved what I was doing. Isn't that the real business of life? Being happy?

Over and over I heard those conformist questions, "Why are you working for peanuts when you could be making so much more?" or "You are worth more money than that, you should ask for a raise!"or  "Are you going to do this for the rest of your life?" or "You didn't need to go to college to work there." And, the familiar non-question, "If I had a degree in Architecture, I'd be working as an architect."

Not once did anyone ever say, "You look happy!" or "Are you happy?" Too bad, because I was very happy. The job fulfilled all my needs. I always wanted to have a farm, to ride horses, to act, and to write scripts. There, I did all of those things and more.

People whispered behind my back, "She got that fancy degree." or "She went to school all of these years and wasted her parent's money."  Okay, not behind my back. A lot of people said those things to my face. I was content. This was enough. I was conforming (sort of) without really conforming. I didn't have to move far away from home, from family, or from friends and go to a strange new land. I was never hip on moving to a big city for those big city dreams. I just needed a creative outlet.

I know what you're thinking. What the heck does all of that have to do with the price of beans? Actually, a lot. As the Manager of Museum Theater and Music, (The historical acting troupe) I met a lot of youth volunteers. These kids worked in the summer, but most of them worked in the fall too. They worked the same hours as I did. Do you know how?

That's right, they were homeschoolers! Were they weird? Not to me. Actors have a reputation of being weird, you know.

At first, I was awful. I said all of those horrible things that non-homeschoolers and ignorant people say. I was ignorant. I had only heard of bad things about homeschooling. I had only known people who were homeschooled because they got kicked out of school or they were extreme Evangelicals - not that there is anything wrong with either of those things. It just sits outside of societal "norms."

These kids at the museum were cool. So cool, so smart. I was in my twenties, but I was envious. What a great life. What a way to experience life. Everyday, they were immersed in living history. They were prepping to fulfill their dreams while actually living life to its fullest.

Still, I hadn't learned my lesson. I was still ignorant, a few years later, when I had my own play place for kids. One of my homeschoolers from the museum, lived in the same town (she guest posts here too). She had younger brothers that needed summer jobs. I hired them to help. When one of them came to me to see what he needed to do to apply to Ball State's Architecture department, I was less than supportive.

"Believe me, it is difficult," I said. I thought, how is a homeschooler going to get in, what do they know? I practically had to jump through hoops to get accepted. Truth is, if I hadn't already had a 4.0 the first year of college, (from theater classes) I probably wouldn't have made the cut. I wished him good luck while promptly discouraging him from trying.

First of all, I didn't want anyone to put themselves through that. I wanted him to understand how intense it was. How would they measure his ability? Does it sound familiar? What a hypocrite. I didn't want him to face failure for attempting something in which he couldn't succeed. Sad face.

Yeah, it was a non-issue. He applied. He got accepted. End of happy story.

Now, this really got me intrigued.

Blah, blah, blah... two kids, two different sets of special needs. A move across town. An online public school to help ease into it. I was sold; we were officially homeschoolers!

We're only weird if you think we're not "normal" like you.

Though, I probably think you're weird so...

I might look like a conformist, but inside my brain is very, very, non-conformist. How can people not see that? Most think I'm just "quirky." Quirky now, eccentric in twenty years. Okay, ten. I'm old.

We are certainly not unsocialized. If anything, we are over socialized. We are all very social people.

Stupid stereotypes.

We are always doing something, somewhere, with someone else.
We want to spend more time at home.

Why do people homeschool?

Because... ballerinas, olympic figure skaters, pianists, actors, free to learn their own way, live outside the box, stay away from bullying, no more school lock-downs, religious reasons, non-religious reasons, control over how they learn, control over what they learn, they don't want to get overlooked in an overworked school system. Those reasons, and oh so many more.


Thought Bites for Homeschooler Haters:

Just because someone says they homeschool, don't assume they don't attend public school. One day, everyone will "homeschool." Mark my progressive words.

Don't ask homeschoolers, "Quick, what's 2340 divided by 892?" Why? Because, they might have a learning disability. They might have Autism. You might look like a jerk. You will put someone on the spot and humiliate them whether they know the answer or not. Don't be a jerk!

Shut up about cursive writing. If you want your kids to learn cursive, then teach them. Don't worry about other people's kids. Did you know that many public schools stopped teaching it? Did you know that many homeschoolers do teach it. If your kids go to a public school that doesn't teach cursive... just teach them yourself.

"Well, how will they read historical documents?" I'll tell you, in a word, Google. I'll tell you in another word, Calligraphy! Do you know how to write in Calligraphy? I did, but I forgot. I bet you don't. I bet it hasn't stifled your progress in life.

It is a new age.

Progress.

Also, if that is your big concern, you've probably led a charmed life. Lots of people have way more important things to deal with on a daily basis. Think survival.

Historical documents? Really? Birthday cards... they'll figure it out.

In case you wondered, we are learning cursive, albeit slowly, but we're learning. We have a fairly charmed life too.


Thought Bites for Homeschooler Wannabes:

If you are a CONFORMIST you CAN homeschool too! You can. You can do an online public school or you can do it on your own in a traditional format. You can teach cursive or whatever you want. You can hold school every day from 8-3. This is the beauty of homeschooling!

We do some kind of educational experience nearly every day of the year. We are always learning. Always, probably far more than those who attend public school.

Don't feel bad if you try it and you don't like it. It may be overwhelming. It is very stressful. I'm not advocating it for everyone; I'm only defending my personal choice. It isn't easy. Some people don't have the patience or the persistence needed to succeed. Homeschooling gets a bad rap from the few homeschoolers who don't do a good job. If you aren't fully committed, please don't do it!

Give it a try; if you don't like it, just move on to the next thing. Then, chalk it up to been there, done that!

Online Homeschool Resources and Curriculum:

Connections Academy
This is a free online public school. They send you free textbooks, school supplies, materials, and a headset.

Brainpop has a yearly or monthly fee for their online school activities. They offer a daily free educational video with a quiz which is great. They also offer free lesson plans.

Time4Learning
This is an online program similar to Brainpop, but without the fun videos.

Khan Academy
This is a free online program. It is excellent for older students. They do math very well, and they are always adding new classes. There are video lessons and quizzes for most grade levels.

Tenses
Learn grammar here.

Kids Creative Chaos Online Lessons
We offer many online lessons and plans in history, science, math, English, and more. Each lesson is in blog post format and designed to last the entire week. You'll find links to kid-friendly videos, free printables, and fun online educational games.

Life of Fred Book Series*
These books use a story format to teach English and math for all grade levels. We love them! They are easy to read. In the math books, he takes the opportunity to teach grammar whenever possible. In the English books, he teaches math concepts. Basically, he teaches with "real life" scenarios. Never mind, that Fred is a five-year-old college professor.














ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products.

*We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)

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It is Better to Try and Fail Than Never to Try at all: Lora's Law #10

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Quote: It is Better to Try and Fail Than Never to Try at All


It seems all you do is try, try, try, and never get anywhere. You have to keep trying to succeed. If you are too afraid to try, you will always feel like a failure. There is no try- only do! You can do it, we say that every day. We keep trying to be a success, but maybe we already are, because we aren't afraid to try. Stay positive, and share this quote to keep motivated. It is better to try and fail than never to try at all. Enjoy!

It is Better to Try and Fail Than Never to Try at all quote: Lora's Law #10
It is Better to Try and Fail Than Never to Try at all quote: Lora's Law #10.

Lora's Law #10:  "It is better to try and fail than never to try at all." Translation, by Dory, "Just keep swimming!"

Motivation is key. If you are unmotivated, you are at risk for depression. If you see yourself as a failure, you will fail at the game of life. If you keep trying, others see you as a success. You motivate them to try to. 

I see so many people (adults and kids too) who take a look at something and decide it is too hard. The fear of failure stifles them from even trying. The task isn't something that they are incapable of doing. Generally, it requires listening skills- concentration. If they'd take a deep breath, relax, and say, "I got this," the outcome would be so different. Instead, they take one look at it, realize they've never done anything like it before, worry about failing and looking stupid, and refuse to try. Boo! This makes me so frustrated.

You aren't always going to "get" everything on the first explanation. You may need to ask questions. You may not understand after you ask questions because you didn't know what questions to ask the first time around. You may think your question is stupid. Don't say, "I can't do this." You will feel miserable. You will feel like you let someone else down, like you are worthless and can't do anything, and you will become depressed. 

Don't beat yourself up. Do try! Say, "Let me take a look at it. I may have lots of questions, but I will try!" If you say, "I can't do this, it is too hard," the person asking may also begin to doubt your ability. It is difficult to lose respect for someone who is willing to try, but it is easy to lose respect for those who aren't willing to learn something new. 

If you think you can't do it, you won't! 

If you think you can, you will try harder and become more likely to succeed. 

No matter how many times it took me to learn something new or do something I didn't think I could, I always felt great once I accomplished my goal! 

I don't succeed at everything. I make so many mistakes! With each mistake, I learn new coping skills and new ways to work things out. Failures are educational. Sitting back and doing nothing? You think you are protecting yourself from failure, but in reality you are defining yourself as a failure. You learn nothing, you do nothing, what have you gained besides convincing yourself that you are worthless? 

Trying is far better.


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ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)


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