Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My last day being 25!

Yes, 25 was a big age for me.  I had waited to turn 25 for a long time.  For me it was a turning point- like I was a legitimate adult- despite the fact that I had been married for 5 1/2 years, had a mortgage for the same length of time and almost 2 children- it just felt big.

I have always been the young one in our group of friends and have always felt that people don't take me seriously because I can easily be mistaken for a college student.  Once I turned 25 I felt like a large part of that was behind me.  The later half of my 20s looked full of hope- finally a bon-a-fide grown-up but I could still wag my tongue at my friends who were on the cusp of (or well into) their 30s (wait, what was that I said about being grown up?)!

And now it is nearly over- tomorrow I will be 26.  I shouldn't lament it.  Nothing particularly crazy happened.  Ok, well I had a baby, and in no way do I want to diminish that or him, but you moms know what I mean.  The past year wasn't marked by wild adventure, travel or spectacular accomplishments (other than an amazing, 15-day-late, 4 hour, homebirth of my little Lion Cub).  I spent most of 25 (which I am aware was actually my 26th year) changing diapers, wiping tears and cleaning up messes.

Does that sadden me?  Am I looking to greener pastures?  Not at all!  I am happy with what I have done, even if it has been mundane or, well, regular at times.  I feel that I have grown and matured as person enormously.  My walk with the Lord has become so much stronger and I love my little family.  However, there was a moment last week that the thought of being 25 coming to an end sent me in to a sudden panic.

I am never going to be 25 again.


I have waited so long for this milestone- what have I got to look forward to now?!  My mother kindly pointed out that 30 will be another big one, and 40, and 50 (which she is turning this year!  Haha!  Yeah- your welcome Mom!), it just won't be 25 though.  I'm going to be fine.  26 is sure to be even better, it was just a little shocking to realize that 25 will soon be no more.

So, what am I hoping for to kick off this next year of my life?  Birthday presents of course!  Oh, come on, don't say you don't hope to be a little pampered for your birthday!  Most of the things on my list I have no actual hope of receiving, but a girl can dream, right?!  And what better place to dream than on my blog!?  So, here is my list, in no particular order!

  • A morning to myself.  I would love to wake up (when I want to), shower (by myself with no baby crawling on my feet), put on something cute (since I will be receiving a few particularly lovely new pieces for my wardrobe from Ann Taylor Loft from my Grandma and Mom)- gather up my Bible (and maybe a couple of other good reads that are currently on my shelf) and head for my favorite bagel shop which happens to be right next to a Starbucks.  I would love to not have to look at my watch and just get lost in my reading and coffee.  Someday maybe...

  • An iPad!  Haha- ok, I KNOW this one won't be happening.  But in all honesty, I actually don't want one until they come out with the next version since it is sure to be better and probably cheaper.  I do want one eventually though!

  • A good bra!  It is just plain sad that this is on my birthday list, but seriously, I haven't purchased a new nursing bra since R-Man was born and the one I have just plain old doesn't fit!  I think that the Bliss by Bravado looks pretty nice (in a 32DD- just in case someone is offering!  :-) hehe).  The girls just really need to be put back where they belong!

  • Cute strappy sandals!  I don't know exactly what I am looking for, but something chic and sassy for summer!

  • This bathing suit top  

(or maybe this one- although she looks so unhappy! I'm just sayin'!

or this one, oh I can't decide!) 

and this skirt 
(so cute for a swim skirt, right?!) all from Down East Basics.  More modest than a bikini, covers everything that I want covered and just plain cute!  Whatever I get I will probably have to have altered since they don't tend to make suits that fit both my large girls and my small rib cage, but I think these suits would be worth it!

  • I would also really love a gift card to Michaels or Two Peas in a Bucket to get some cute scrapping papers for a decor project I am working on, or a gift card to Pink Chalk Fabrics or JoAnn Fabrics for a little project I have in the works to spruce up my wardrobe and a quilt project I have my eye on!

Alright- I'll stop myself before I get even more carried away!

Anyhow- I better get out there and whoop it up before this year is over!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting it together

I hate that the majority of posts I have been writing over the past couple of months have included lines such as, "Man, it has been so long since I have posted!"  And yet here I am again!  Honestly, the sickness we have been dealing with has been insane (did I mention that I finally went in and found out that I had a raging sinus and ear infection that should have been treated a lot sooner) AND my hubby was working out of town for two weeks solid.  Needless to say, I have been exhausted and have had too much on my plate!  However, I do finally feel that I am maybe starting to make some progress and get a grip on things- more of that to come.

So what has been happening otherwise?  Well, last Friday R-Man turned 4!!  4- I can't believe it! It doesn't seem possible!  He had such a fun birthday weekend and I will be posting more about it on his blog- The World According to R-Man!

 I have tons of blog catching up to do, but seriously hope (and plan) to get back on track this week, and as long as Lion Cub decides to sleep this week (he has a cold again), then I will be getting up earlier and re-entering this glorious blog-land which I dearly miss!

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Little Prayer of Mine- Reivew & Giveaway!

What a sweet little book!  We have truly enjoyed this rhyming little prayer that ensures little hearts that God hears them, protects them, and can give them the strength to obey and become whatever they want to be!  The picture are very sweet detailed.  This book has been a wonderful addition to our family devotions and is a lovely choice for a before bed book!

In fact, we liked it so much that I am offering a giveaway!  All you have to do to enter is drop by my new blog, The Research Years, then come back here and tell me what you think (this is the mandatory entry)!  You can get one extra entry for doing each of the following:
If you would like to purchase a copy of This Little Prayer of Mine you can visit Random House.

I trust that your family will enjoy this book as much as we have!  Thanks for entering & visiting!

Winner will be chosen on Saturday April 17, 2010
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
If you would like to review books for Waterbrook Press you can join their Blogging for Books program here!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Welcome to the Party!!!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Welcome and I am so excited to have you!!

Let me introduce myself! My name is MacKenzie (aka Chic_Mama or Mama Kenz) and I am the Mama behind:

Mama Kenz Studio,

The World According to Roman 
The World According to R-Man,

TLC Button
The Lion Cub 
and The Research Years (more about that in a minute!).

I have two little boys so far (an almost 4 yo and a 10 month old) and have a passion for training and discipling my kiddos at home (which includes academics), being the best wife and homemaker possible (although I fail in this area more as much as I thrive), living as naturally as I can (I LOVE cloth diapers!), creating things with my hands (I love a good project!), reading (mmmmm- books!), blogging (of course!), and a whole host of other things!  I also enjoy helping mama's birth their babies and learn how to adjust to life afterward as a DONA trained birth and postpartum doula.  I think I lead a pretty eclectic life!

Things you can expect from Mama Kenz Studio are:
  • Light-hearted mama wit (okay- I hope you think I'm funny!  Don't we all?!)
  • Thoughts on faith and life
  • Book, product, service, event and speaker reviews filled with honest opinions
  • All sorts of craftiness
  • Memes 
  • The occasional reference to the bodily functions and by products of young children (see here)
  • Honesty & Realness (isn't it refreshing to just be real?!)
Things you won't find here:
  • Perfection
  • Anything related to fly fishing, hunting or sports in general
  • Generic product reviews for so-so products
  • Boringness (well, I hope not anyway!)
If that sounds like a whole barrel of goodness to you, please feel free to subscribe or follow, snag a button, become a fan on Facebook (also in left sidebar), and/or follow on twitter (Chic_Mama)!

With this blog party I am also introducing my brand new blogging venture called The Research Years which is devoted to letters I am writing to my children and their future spouses.  It is about leaving a legacy and creating a heritage.  I am very excited about it and would be honored if you took the time to visit over there as well!  

I hope you will be able to visit throughout the week as I will be hosting a variety of book reviews and and even a giveaway on a very cute children's book!  The fun is just beginning!

As far as the party is concerned, if you don't know about it you can click on the badge at the top of this post to find out more, but basically it is just what it sounds like- one big blogging party with hundreds of bloggers who meet each other, enter for prizes and just plain have fun!  It is sure to be a great time!

Personally, I have my eye on these prizes:
(okay, so I am going to have to post them after I can access the 5 Minutes for Mom site- they are currently being over loaded)

Thanks so much for stopping by!!

Excuse me & a Sneak Peek!!

Excuse me while I get all dressed up for the party!  Well, get my blog dressed up anyway, for The Ultimate Blog Party (which begins tonight at 9:00 PST)!  I am very excited to get things kicked off, especially because I am launching my new blog project (at last!)!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

But since you are all my loyal readers I thought I would give you a little sneak peek (a few hours early anyway!) since I have been teasing you with it for so long!

So, here goes!  Drumroll please.......

I would like to introduce you to:

The Research Years is all about leaving a legacy for my kids and meeting them and their spouses in the future, where I am at now.  It is about being honest with them- reminding them what life was really like when they were young so that they and their spouses don't suffer from any unrealistic delusions or expectations.  It is about sharing with them what I learn as I go, so that some day when they are 26, or 30, or 45, they can look back and see what I was writing to them when I was that age.  I plan on turning this blog into a series of books that I can present to them at different, relevant points in their lives (ya know the big ones- leaving for college, getting married, having babies, etc...).

I plan on covering everything from our day-to-day life, my own trials and errors, recipes, general homemaking ideas and info, how the Lord is working in my life, prayers for them, thoughts on marriage and raising kids, family history and more.  All of these topics will be written directly to them, but my hope is that as you all get to spy in on what I have to say to them, you may be able to learn and relate right along with me.

In addition to the posts that will be directly written to my children and their future spouses, I plan on writing some posts just specifically for my readers.  These posts will pretty much center around leaving a legacy and building a memory inheritance for our kids.  I will post about a wide variety of ideas on how you can prepare for what you want to share with and pass on to your children in the future- everything from hope chests to homemaking journals and beyond!

I will still be blogging here at Mama Kenz Studio and my boy's blogs as well, but the meat of homemaking matters will happen over at The Research Years.  Mama Kenz Studio will be reserved for memes, reviews, personal faith stuff, crafting and everything that is just really me.

So, what do you think?  I would love your input and feed back!

Speaking of feedback, you may notice that I switched to DISQUS for commenting, which I think will be a wonderful addition to this blog and give me the ability to better answer your questions and keep in touch with all of you loyal commenters!  I so appreciate all of you who take the time to leave a note and remind me that there really are people who read all this silly business that I pour my heart into! Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Simply Charlotte Mason- All Day CM review

Okay- I promised this review to you guys a while ago, so I figured that I should probably get around to finally posting it! 

About a month ago I bought a few homeschooling resources with a bit of our tax return and the All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar on DVD from was one of them.  I purchased the set that had four DVDs for the seminar, including Laying Down the Rails (which is all about establishing habits), along with the Laying Down the Rails book and the guided seminar notebook to take down my own notes in.  I plan to review the Laying Down the Rails portion at a later date, once I have finished the book (it is rather large!).

I thought that this seminar and accompanying notebook were extremely well prepared and thought out.  The seminar is long (hence the three DVDs) but is extremely thorough in covering how Charlotte Mason suggests you teach each subject for a full education- everything from the core subjects to extra-curriculars. 

Sonya Shaffer (the speaker and creator of the workshop) is engaging to listen to and uses many direct quotes from Charlotte's works.  She uses Charlotte's methods throughout the workshop to teach the listeners in order to give an even better understanding of the how-tos of the Charlotte Mason process, which I found to be inventive and helpful.  I thought her teaching style was very effective and I came away from (watching) the seminar feeling as though I had actually been there, and now have a much better understanding of Charlotte Mason and the realities of using this method.

The package was a bit on the spendy side but a resource I am sure I will return to over and over again through our homeschooling years, and am confident that it was a wise purchase and helpful addition to my teaching library.  I plan to use a mixture of Charlotte Mason and Unit Studies and this DVD definitely helped me get a better grasp on where we are headed and what it will look eventually like.  I recommend this set to all moms using or planning on using this approach in their homeschool, and if you are a local friend you are more than welcome to borrow it!

Please note that this post was not sponsored by or affiliated with in any way.  All materials were purchased at my expense and my honest opinions were given.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad therefore I am!

Well, today is the day- iPad is officially on the market!  And I want one so badly I can taste it!  I honestly think that this little piece of futuristic technology could revolutionize my life!  No, seriously!  Ever since Lion Cub sucked on the end of my iPhone and left half the screen unresponsive, life just hasn't been the same!  The iPad could make up for what I have been lacking, and more! 

I mean have you looked at the specs on this thing?!  Not only is it only 1/2" thick and 9.7" high, it has a high-res LED-backlit display and the most advanced multi-touch technology!  Just like for the iPhone, there are thousands of apps that have just been waiting for today to make their big entrance onto the market.  Plus, Apple is releasing a brand new app called iBook which turns the iPad into the most amazing book reader available (among other things, it is in color, unlike the Kindle).

As far as e-mail and web-surfing go, there is nothing like it even in existence!  The iPad, essentially, let's you hold the internet in your hands, like a book, making it tangible for the first time! 

It's portability and versatility could make my life as a mom and a blogger so much more streamlined and help me get way more done in a day!  I would be able to work anywhere and almost anytime.  Yes, folks- I am in love with iPad!  And I haven't even seen one yet!  I may just have to run over to Best Buy later on today to get a little hands on action for the first time.  Then again, I would just be teasing myself since there is no way that I can buy one.  :-(

Now, this is where all my regular mom readers can check out, because I would never expect anything from you!  However, if there happen to be any business people reading this post right now who would like a little solid advertising in the blogosphere- I'm your girl!  If you sponsored my blog with a new iPad, I would feature your advertising on the top right corner of all four of my blogs (including the one I am revealing next week), plus do numerous posts about your company, and add your logo to my business cards with the caption "sponsored by."  In addition, depending on your product, I am sure I could find more ways to drive people to your site- I am one creative chica!

So, that's it!  If you happen to be interested in sponsorship, you can quickly get in touch with me at  
chic_kenz (@) yahoo (.) com
I look forward to hearing from you soon and thank you so much for your consideration!

Friday, April 2, 2010

"An Absence So Great" Review- **Updated**

Publisher Summary:
Inspired by the engaging stories told through her grandmother’s photographs taken at the turn of the century, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick provides a portrait of the tension between darkness and light in the soul of a young woman pursuing her  professional dreams.
Despite growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is still at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those ill with mercury poisoning. 
Jessie gains footing on her dream to one day own her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep those painful memories from seeping into her heart, and the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

If I am being totally honest, I am not quite finished with this book yet.  I am about 2/3 of the way done (but as many of you know, we have been plagued by sickness and injury for the last month+, and I was wrapping up the Bible in 90 Days challenge- a mama can only do so much!).  So, this review will be based on what I have read so far.

Generally, I am a fan of Jane Kirkpatrick's work. I think that she is very well researched for her historical fiction, and I maintain that perspective for this book.  However, I haven't been as captivated by this story as I had hoped.  While I enjoy the history aspects of the book and the vintage photography, it has felt very slow and sad.  The characters are tremendously discontent and although they make mentions of seeking Godly council and attending revivals, their hearts are running far from the Lord (including an affair with a married man).

I also found myself annoyed with the main character's bent on female independence.  I know that may sound strange, but I feel like we are so swamped with feminism these days as I attempt to make the fight to be a homeschooling homemaker who is proud to be just that, I get tired of reading things that make it sound like that role is unfulfilling and not enough.

That is just my two cents.  I do plan to continue reading the book but will probably not go back and read the first in the series or anymore to come, unless the characters have a complete change of heart and attitude.

If you would like to purchase a copy of An Absence So Great you can visit Random House here.

**UPDATE** (and possibly a spoiler alert- read with caution!) Alright- now that I have finished the book I wanted to come back and add a couple of comments to my review.  First of all, I want to say that I wish I had realized before the end of the book that it was based on a true story, not just based in accurate historical context. 

This greatly changed my perspective of Jessie Gaebele's life and choices.  I guess I had much greater sympathy with the choices she had made and the situations she was in once I knew that she was a real person and this is what she actually went through in her life.  My compassion for her circumstances (especially that of her relationship with Fred) went far beyond what I expected- after all, I am a second wife myself.  I wish that all of this had been more openly addressed at the beginning of the book since it so greatly altered my view of the book and I feel that I would have enjoyed it much more.  I commend Jane Kirkpatrick for the way that she loving researched her own family and used the facts and anecdotes she had to weave such an intricate and delicate story.

Please note that this book was supplied by the publisher for honest review.