Thursday, March 27, 2008

Some lapbooking questions answered...

After my post yesterday about lapbooking I received some questions, so I thought I would make a little post here to answer them.

Question #1- How do you create a lapbook?
Answer #1- Well, I got the basic folding technique from this site: very helpful, basic ways to fold lapbooks. You can find more links about what lapbooking is all about and how to do it on this site:

Question #2- Why is it called a lapbook?
Answer #2- I have no idea!! That is a good question though! Of course I can't leave you hanging with an answer like that though! So, after some looking I found out (at least according to this site- that they are called lapbooks because they are large and cover your lap (hehe)! No, seriously- that is what it truly said! Look for yourself! I am sure there has to be a better explanation, but so far that is all I have found. Sorry!

Question #3- Do you plan on creating one every week?
Answer #3- Yes, indeedy do! However, there are lots of people who do one per month or one per whatever topic they are studying- however long that topic takes to learn. It is really based on personal preference. I plan to do one for each theme of the Letter of the Week curriculum, which equals out to one a week. We have been doing enough activities that I am having trouble fitting them all in one book, so one per week is my minimum (it's the over achiever in me!). With older children you could obviously do much larger and more detailed lapbooks. They work well with any kind of curriculum really- unit or individual subject. They also incorporate well into the Heart of Wisdom teaching approach.

Well, I hope that helps shed a little bit more light on what lapbooking is all about! So far I am really enjoying putting them together with Roman and I love to see the joy on his face when he shows them off! Yup, I think we will be sticking with lapbooking for many years to come!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our Adventure into Lapbooking!

Lately I have been feeling a little like I haven't been investing enough time into teaching Roman- things such as numbers, letters, shapes, colors and so on. This problem partially stems from the fact that (yes, I will admit it) I don't always know what to do with him! I didn't have the upbringing that I hope for my kids- a large family where you learn how to take care of children because there are always some around. I had one brother 21 months younger than me, and my world was all about... me! By the age of 11 I had an agent across the state and was filming commercials and staring in local theatre productions. I rarely babysat- and even when I did it wasn't children under 4 or 5- and I had no younger cousins nearby to speak of. So, this is me- completely and utterly unprepared for what to "do" with a 2 year old!

So, of course I had to turn to the place I always do when I am once again reminded of my total lack of education in the homemaking realm- the internet! I had known for quite some time that I was going to homeschool our children and had done a small amount of research on the matter (even reading homeschool books when I first got pregnant!) but I hadn't heard much about what to do with a child this young. I began searching out some homeschooling forums for ideas but was mostly met with the response that I was starting much too young with "formal education" and I should just let him play. Somehow I felt misunderstood and the idea of "just letting him play" wasn't working for us. I knew that I needed to be playing with him but I just didn't feel like I knew how.

I am the kind of person who needs structure and a plan or things just won't get done the way they should be! So, I did a little more searching and I found this great (and free) little curriculum called Letter of the Week. There are all sorts of different levels to work from and since we are starting at ground zero, the Preparatory Curriculum seemed like a good place to start! Each week it includes a general theme (such as cows), a letter, a number, a color or shape and a nursery rhyme. I have tweaked it a little bit to include Bible verses and stories and we also are using a lapbook to display Roman's work instead of the poster board they recommend. Throughout the week you do different activities from coloring, to dancing, to singing, to writing letters in pudding- all of which reinforce the main focuses of the week.

Each week I simply copy the curriculum into my Pages program and get everything lined up for what we will be working on each day. I then print out coloring pages and activities for the areas we will be focusing on that week, and type out the poems, songs and the nursery rhyme in cute little fonts. I also glue together a simple lapbook that will house all of Roman's work for that week, and map out where I expect to put all of his activities inside of it. As we work on things throughout the week we then paste them into his lapbook so he can continue looking at them the rest of the week. When the week is over he can then show off his work quite easily to grandparents and friends. It amazes me just how much pride he is taking in his work even at this young age! I also plan on including pictures of Roman doing the different activities and a list of the accomplishments he made that week. I am looking forward to having these lapbooks as memorabilia of the different things Roman was learning as he grew and it is nice to not just have random coloring pages floating around my house and in boxes- they are displayed and available to look back on at any time.

Here are pictures of the first lapbook. We started last week with the theme of Easter (not part of a curriculum). I printed out different coloring sheets and mini-books, along with children's resurrection songs and Bible Verses. Throughout the week we read the verses, sang the songs, read resurrection books and completed the activities, all the while including them into the lapbook. By the end of the week I was truly amazed by just home much Roman had really absorbed! His verbal skills expanded ten-fold in just one little week and he seemed to really catch on to the meaning of Easter by the time we celebrated on Sunday. It brought such joy to my heart!

We still have to complete the activity for the cover (a tomb with Jesus popping out the top), and I plan on scrapbooking our Resurrection Sunday along with our traditions in the last half of the lapbook. This lapbook took a total of 4 file folders, which I connected with permanent double stick tape, and includes a nice little pocket in the middle where we can keep his Easter cards from this year. I am very happy with the way that it turned out and am so glad we will have it to look back on next year and compare how much Roman has grown and changed.

This week is our first in the Letter of the Week Curriculum and so far it is going well. I will make sure to post our completed lapbook next week sometime for you all to see. I hope this post can help encourage you all to find activities to participate in with your youngsters as well- it is truly rewarding as you see the wheels in their little heads turning and things really beginning to click! Happy Learning!

By the way- here is another great site on Scrapbooking to Learn:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Homekeeper Challenge Weekly Post #1

(For all of you participating in the Challenge, leave your name in the Mr. Linky at the end of this post to the Challenge post on your blog for this week. For those of you new to the Challenge, make sure you check in here first!)

Alright, I have been throwing lots of ideas around in my head about what my first Homekeeper Challenge post should be about, and although I have been working on lots of things this week I think I have finally settled on the topic of my kitchen (never fear- I plan to post about those other things too- just not as my official post of the week!).

So, yes, my kitchen- small (to say the least) and, a mere week ago, incredibly cluttered! Since my feelings of late had been that I really needed to step up to the plate and give this homekeeper thing my all (hence the Challenge) I decided that enough was enough and my kitchen needed to be clean and organized once and for all!

-Pantry Before

Pantry After-

I began with my pantry and my baking cupboard- the main cupboards that needed complete restructuring. First I cleared everything out of them and cleaned them. I then proceeded to fit everything from the pantry back into neat bins based on food category (canned goods, pasta/rice/grains, nuts & dried fruits and so on...)and label them with pretty little labels I made on my computer, framed on scrapbook paper and covered with packing tape. (What a difference, huh?) The baking cupboard required mostly clearing out stuff we didn't use (such as Splenda- what was I thinking when I bought that?!?!) and neatly replacing things on the shelves. I did add one small basket for bags of chocolate chips and baking nuts, other than that it was pretty simple. My next step for these cupboards is to buy gallon sized glass jars to store everything from our cereal, to flour, to whole grains (I plan to start milling our own wheat and baking bread soon), to sugar and so on. I think that about does it for that area!

-Baking Cupboard Before & After-

Onto the counter tops! Ugh- do you feel my loathing? Our counter tends to collect a lot of this and that that has no particular place in our home. But after much dread and a little creative thinking I managed to find a spot for everything and restore the peace to my kitchen!

Now for the REAL work- keeping it that way! Actually, it is more will than work! I made the decision to have my counters clear, sink empty (one of the few things I picked up from Fly Lady years ago) and if at all possible my dishwasher too every night before I let my head graze the pillow. So far- it's working! Really, when you are constantly maintaining a space it takes much less effort to clean - go figure! All these years of mountains of dishes to conquer and if I had just been keeping up on them as they dirtied my life would have been so much simpler! Somehow, I know that I always knew this in the back of my head, it was just difficult to make the choice to take the plunge and vow to follow through! But oh does it feel good! I love walking into my fresh kitchen every morning! It makes the day seem so much brighter and less daunting!

So join me ladies- go organize those kitchens and keep them clean too (or whatever other goal you may have set for this week)! Whatever you do- do it with gusto and a song in your heart for the Lord! Remember- every time you serve your family you are serving Him- and He will never forget all that you do! Blessings!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Homekeeper Challenge 2008!!

Yup ladies- that's right! I challenge you to make the decision to really find out what it means to be the keeper of your home and fully dive into this divine role God has given you!

So how does the Homekeeper Challenge work? Well, first of all you need to find out what being a homekeeper is really all about. Here is the definition I found in the Mama Kenz Dictionary:

homekeeper- a woman who loves Jesus above all things and believes He has Biblically instructed her to love and submit to her husband, putting his pursuits above her own; love, care for and train up her children through home instruction (homeschooling) and life experience; make her home a peaceful and healthy environment to raise her family by means of cleaning, wholesome cooking, organization and decoration; be hospitable; and truly take on her home as her ministry and the strongest outreach tool she possesses. She recognizes that the role she fulfills is not menial, but rather one that requires skill, intelligence and creativity.

There are many wonderful resources you can access for more detailed information about what it means to be a homekeeper. My personal recommendation is for you to get your hands on a copy of Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God by Stacy McDonald and Jennie Chancey. This book has literally changed my life, and therefore the life of my family, by showing me a clear picture of how God designed the life of a wife and mother to look. You can also check out Stacy McDonald's blog, Your Sacred Calling, or Jennie Chancey's site, Ladies Against Feminism, for more wonderful inspiration and instruction. The Prairie Muffin Manifesto is also a fabulous source to look at- it really breaks down what being a keeper of your home truly encompasses. There are many other blogs out there that have wonderful tips, information and life examples about what this homekeeper role is all about- I encourage you to search for them and share them with the rest of us! In fact, one of those such blogs may even be your own!

So, now that you know what a homekeeper is, the next step of the Challenge is figuring out what that looks like for you and your family. God has created us all equal and no two homes or homekeepers look the same! Although there are certain principles for us all to follow (such as those listed in my homekeeper definition) the ways they are acted out in our homes will differ greatly. While some homekeepers (HKs) may thrive on gardening others may enjoy sewing. Some HKs will have one system of organization for their homes while others will have very different ideas of what it means to keep their home neat and orderly. This is where the fun begins- as you start (or continue) on your journey of being the best HK you can be, you can share with the rest of us the clever ideas you have put into place in your home!

The Homekeeper Challenge is all about encouraging you to fully dive into your God given role, documenting your journey and sharing with the rest of us what you learn along the way! To be a part of the Homekeeper Challenge 2008 you simply try to be the best homekeeper you can and then blog about it at least once a week! After you have done your homekeeping post for the week you simply head on over here to Mama Kenz Studio where you can place your blog on a Mr.Linky for other homekeepers on the challenge to check out! Make sure you link back to the that Mama Kenz Studio Homekeeper Challenge post of the week so that other HKs who read your post can join the Challenge too! A great way to link back would be to use this little banner:
So how do you sign up? Well, just copy the little Challenge button on the top of this post and place it somewhere on your blog. Then come back here and add your Blog to the Challenge Mr. Linky! After that, you are ready to start posting about your Homekeeper Challenge! I so look forward to reading your posts, encouraging one another and seeing where this Challenge takes us throughout the rest of the year! God bless Ladies! Let's get keepin'!

Oh, and by the way- if you get involved you just might win some stuff! So, make sure you stay tuned!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

So, who the heck am I anyway?

Well, I am so glad you asked! It's an interesting question- one that not even I have the complete answer to, but I will definitely give you some kind of idea of what kinda crazy mama I am (and yes- the fish bowl did seem to distort my face a little! My heart goes out to the fish!)!

So, first and foremost I am a Christian which pretty much defines every other role I have. I got saved when I was 13 but in the last year I have been seeing God work more dramatically in my life than ever before! Needless to say, I am a work in progress and the Lord has really been showing me changes that need to happen in my life to be the kind of wife and mother I envision being. Change is never easy but it is oh so sweet!

In December our family began attending a family discipleship church and it has literally saved my marriage and I believe the future of my family! It is unlike any church I have ever been to- they actually show you how to disciple your children to follow the Lord and they back it up with Biblical evidence! It is wonderful and refreshing! Small, intimate and family oriented- we actually all keep our children in service with us (without any raised eyebrows and sneering glares when our kids make noise- pure bliss!)!

In the recent months my husband and I (pictured up top) have really been seeing just how important our Biblically defined roles are and how blurred they have become in our culture. He is the man and our leader and I am his helper- and I am okay with that because that is the way it was designed (even though it may not always be easy to follow!)! My job is to aid him in his pursuits, raise and educate our children and be the keeper of our home. This is not the menial, redundant job the world makes it out to be- it is a rewarding position that honors God and requires intelligence, creativity, organization and ingenuity! I am not just a housewife- I am a home keeper and glad to be! (For more in this stance you should really check out Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald- it changed my world!)

In my role as the keeper of my home and caretaker for my child (which will hopefully be children sometime next year) I believe it to be paramount that I am well informed about things regarding my family's health and safety. In my research I have found the attachment approach to parenting along with the amazing benefits of cloth diapers, natural homemade household cleaners, natural skincare products and much more, which I like to share with other mamas through my blog and my natural parenting consulting business- Chic & Savvy Mamas. I am also an aspiring doula for birth, postpartum and pregnancy loss ( I am a woman of many hobbies as well! I enjoy knitting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking, and freelance writing in my spare time- just to name a few!

So that give you a glance of who I am! Christian, wife, mama, homemaker, lover of all things (or almost all things) natural and pursuer of many interests! I would love for you to frequent my blog and follow me on my little journey- we may even exchange some tips and tricks along the way!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

You could be a winner!!

So, I wanted to do a little feature on the prize my blog is offering to 2 lucky winners for the Ultimate Blog Party! I am offering the winners a copy of my Chic & Savvy Guide to Natural Mothering along with unlimited personal consultation services for natural pregnancy, labor and parenting. Basically, my consultation services make me available to you for any questions you may have about naturally raising your family while staying modern and trendy. I can help direct you to the best resources available so that you can make sure you are a well informed parent, making the best and most healthy choices for your loved ones. My services help you make the transition from mainstream to natural parenting without feeling like your world has been turned upside down and you need to start growing out your leg hair and wearing patchouli! With my help you can save money and make your family more healthy, all while keeping your identity!

So, how do you enter? Well, there are two ways:

1. Leave a comment on this post or my previous post about the Ultimate Blog Party and I will draw for a winner on March 14. In your post I would love to hear why you want to be entered for this gift and make sure you leave a way for me to contact you!

2. Head on over to the Ultimate Blog Party page at 5 Minutes for Mom and follow the directions to sign up for a prize, plus get your blog a lot of attention!

I can't wait to meet all of you and thanks so much for stopping by! Make sure you give my blog a little look through- you may find something you like! I hope to see you back again very soon!

Friday, March 7, 2008

There's a party goin' on!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Woohoo- it's party time over at 5 Minutes for Mom! March 7-14 they are hosting their second annual blog party where wives, mamas and women in general can go to check out a whole slew of awesome blogs! Mingle, get to know some new blogging friends and win some amazing prizes while you're at it!

Prizes, you ask? Yes- PRIZES! In fact, as part of my participation in the blog party I will be offering a copy of my Chic & Savvy Guide to Natural Mothering along with unlimited Natural Parenting Consulting to not one but TWO lucky winners! Count 'em- TWO! There are two ways to enter for my prizes-
1. Go to the party website and follow the directions to sign-up and win all sorts of cool things!
2. Sign this post with a link to your blog and the reason you would want my prize package! Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you!
I will be choosing the winner of my blog prize on March 14 and contacting them immediately- don't miss out!

You simply must check out the other prizes being offered in the party also! There is some seriously cool stuff! My favorites so far are definitely the blog makeovers (especially the ones offered by Shauna and Sweet'n Simple Designs!), the Kleen Kanteen Sippy and of course the gift cards to Amazon, Target and Starbucks!

Make sure you check back here throughout the week as I will be posting lots of fun stuff in honor of the party! I also plan to host an afterparty the following week and hope to be holding even more giveaways! This should be lots of fun! See you soon!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm an Apronista!

So, I haven't been around for a while! It is amazing how quickly a month slips by without writing! However, I have been incredibly busy (and sick!)! Among other things Jer has been out of work and pouring much of his time into finishing our basement. We were approved for a loan to get it all completed- at last, and so we have been spending lots of time picking out our finishes and looking for the best prices! Look for lots more blogging about our home's transformation very soon!

On other fronts we have been becoming more active in our new church and really finding out what it means to live by the principles of home discipleship and fulfilling our Biblical roles as husband and wife, and mother and father. This last month the men read the book Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham and the women read the book Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald. Both were wonderful reads and I will definitely be going more in-depth on I thought of Passionate Housewives and the response it has inspired in my life in a future post! Stay tuned for that! (By the way- you should totally check out Stacy McDonald's blog- Your Sacred Calling! It is so wonderful and an amazing source of information and encouragement!)

But finally, to get around the to the point of this post- I wanted to share with you all my fun new aprons! Last month I got together with a group of women and tried once-a-month-cooking for the first time (which I absolutely LOVE and think every mother should try!) and so I needed an apron for the day. I had been wanting to make one for quite some time so this was the perfect excuse! Clearly, from the photos you can see that I just couldn't make up my mind about my fabric choices and style of apron so I ended up making two! I designed them myself and it was a great test of my sewing abilities- especially the pleats! It was so much fun and I am very pleased with how they turned out! I find myself using them all the time now and am not sure what I did before I had them! The pockets are especially handy around the house! Let me know what you all think- I would love some feedback!!