Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lapbooking Christmas

We have three weeks of school left before Christmas break.  I am ready for something different from our routine.  So I’ve been searching for lapbooks to work on during the countdown to Christmas.  I think one a week is enough, but I have a back-up fourth one just in case.

Lapbooks are a wonderful way to add some change to your schooltime.  They can replace your standard curriculum or add to it.  You don’t even have to homeschool to use them with your kids, and they come in ability levels from Preschool through High School. 

We have used lapbooks to review something we’ve been learning about.  For instance, last year the girls did a curriculum, The Prairie Primer, based around the Little House on the Prairie books.  At the end of many of the books—we meant to do one after all of them, but it just didn’t happen—we did a lapbook.  We’ve done lapbooks on Fridays, our normal “day off.”  We’ve supplemented science and social studies with lapbooks.  

My favorite site for free lapbooks is: 
They have tons of lapbooks based on different books and subjects.  We will be doing The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas lapbooks, and I may use The Twelve Days of Christmas.

The other lapbook I plan to use is The Nativity.  I found it for free at: 

Monday we will start The Polar Express.  Thursday the movie is on TV, so we can compare the book—a beautiful book by Chris Van Allsburg—to the movie.   It is a short, easy book to read, but never grows old.  

The following week we will do The Night Before Christmas.  There are many versions of this poem, some with gorgeous illustrations.  I plan to find several to compare.

The last week of school, we will leave the secular and finish up with the true meaning of Christmas—The Nativity, and possibly The Twelve Days of Christmas.

In addition to our lapbooks focused on Christmas, we are doing a Jesse Tree for the first time.  The name alone has significant meaning to us because we lost a baby we named Jesse on the day after Christmas 2006.  The Jesse Tree focuses on the lineage of Jesus, seeing how all of history led up to His miraculous birth.  I found a couple of websites that provide ideas/devotions for the Jesse Tree.  This year we are using one offered by . We start our morning with the Jesse Tree activities.

What are you doing to spice up the Christmas season in your home?  Lapbooks and the Jesse Tree are a great way to involve your children in this special time of the year.  You don’t have to homeschool to do either.  They are low-cost, low-effort, and high learning.  Now, get out there, Google “lapbooks” and get learning in a new way!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Have you ever used fresh cranberries for cooking?  Until we found them for 10 cents a bag a couple years ago, I had never bought fresh cranberries before, let alone cook with them!  In fact, I wasn’t even sure I liked canned cranberry sauce.  When I had ten bags of fresh cranberries, I decided I’d better figure out what to do with them!

First, you can freeze a bag of fresh cranberries by simply popping it in the freezer.  When they thaw, they retain their texture and don’t go to mush like you might expect.  They will be fine for up to a year in your freezer.

One of the first things I did with my fresh (or frozen) cranberries was to make this salad/relish.  It involves no cooking whatsoever--just a food processor, or something else you can use to finely chop.  You don’t need to thaw the cranberries if they are frozen.  It is a tangy, wonderful holiday side. You just finely chop a bag of cranberries, one orange—rind and all—and a small apple, seeded.  Add up to a cup of sugar.  Mm, Mm, makes my mouth water!  This is a great, simple recipe you can make with the kids.  They might be surprised how much they like it.

Now, what about getting some education involved in your cranberries? The first real “cooking” of cranberries I did followed reading Cranberry Thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin, with my children.  (There is also a follow-up story Cranberry Christmas, but we haven’t read that yet.)  Cranberry Thanksgiving is one of the books featured in Five in a Row.  Here is a great lapbook using this book to do with your children to learn more about cranberries:

At the end of Cranberry Thanksgiving is a recipe for Grandma’s Cranberry Bread.  It is a wonderful recipe!  We love it!  It is sweet and moist.  For our family of 8, it is best if I double the recipe, but I used just one bag of cranberries for both loaves.  It really should be closer to a bag and a half, but we find there are still plenty of cranberries.

If you’ve never bought or used cranberries before, I suggest you give this tart, beautiful fruit a try.  Around Thanksgiving the price is very good and you can find great deals on fresh cranberries--I've seen them for as much as $1.99 a pound and as little as a dime a pound.  Try something new; get your children involved.  You might discover a new holiday favorite!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I am angry, and I think I crossed over the line of "Be angry and sin not" (my paraphrase).  In my anger, I slammed my new sweeper down and broke the lever that locks it in upright.  Now it falls over.  A lot.  When you least expect it.

Every time I sweep from now on, I'll be reminded of today.  Will I remember and romanticize what made me angry, giving me an excuse to rehash and reflame my anger?  Or will I remember how my inappropriate actions cost me?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We are so close to finishing up school.  We've doubled our daily work to catch up.  I don't know HOW we got so far behind!!  We are now reading The First Four Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Our science for today was studying hail.  We learned how hail is formed in layer in the upper parts of storm clouds because the water droplet freezes, starts to fall, is swept upwards again, adding layer after layer. The temperature at the top of a 20,000 ft. storm cloud would be -25ºF today because it was around 85ºF on the ground, and the temperature falls 5.5ºF for every 1000 ft. increase in elevation.  
How wonderful to be surprised with a timely demonstration by nature!  Within ten minutes of searching the internet for pictures of hailstones, we got hit with a "hum-dinger" of a hailstorm!  It hailed hard and long.  Here's a picture of the largest piece I saw on the deck and was brave enough to go out to get.  You can see hints of the layers.  Love the irregular edges.

I think this is a science lesson the girls will remember for a long while!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Grace=unmerited favor
I've been a Christian for a long time.  Most of my life.  I didn't always walk right, but I knew the Truth, and eventually I let the Truth set me free (because God can set you free, but you choose to carry around the chains anyway).  Something long-time Christians may struggle with is thinking all they do for Christ proves to Him how righteous they are.  (Righteous=right in God's eyes) 

My epiphany for this week is that God's grace, given to me by Jesus, makes me righteous.  Not what I do.  Oh, I knew this all along.  I knew I was saved by grace and not works.  I've taken college classes on being sanctified and justified, and I knew what they meant.  But somewhere along the line, I started feeling like all I DO shows what I AM to God. 

And here's the thing:  I am still right in God's eyes even if I'm not teaching a class;  I'm right in God's eyes even if my husband isn't the Praise and Worship leader;  I'm right in God's eyes even if we drop all our responsibilities at our church and walk away.  What I DO does not make me what I AM to God.  (***Goosebumps***)  It's what HE did.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I've been a Christian for many years.  Most of my life.  And in those years, I've had times of trouble with obedience.  I've even argued with God.  My latest disagreement with Him was about being called to lead our Children's Ministries--a position that didn't even exist. 

I had many legitimate reasons for not doing it.  After all, I'm a busy mom of 6, homeschooling my family.  Three and a half years ago, God pulled me out of my ministry positions, only allowing me to gradually pick up a couple--a light load.  And I needed that!  Doing this would make no sense!

Many times, I've heard fellow Christians say, "God wants us to use common sense."  I may have said it myself.  A couple months ago this phrase triggered that still, small voice saying, "Really?"

My mind began to wander through the Bible stories; the stories I've been told, I've read myself, and I've taught to others.  I was looking for God wanting His children to use common sense. 

Wander with me through the Old and New Testaments as we look for God's use of common sense.

*  God told Noah to build a big boat in a land that had no bodies of water and had never seen rain.

*  God told Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice--the son that would fulfill God's promise to multiply Abraham's descendants to outnumber the stars.

*  God called Moses--the man with the stutter--to be His spokesman to Pharoah.

*  God told Joshua to lead his people around Jericho and destroy the walls with a shout.

*  God informed Gideon that his army of 22,000 was too big to fight the Midianites.  He only needed 300 men.

*  When fighting a giant, forget the army or strongmen--send a young boy with a slingshot.

*  God unraveled a plot to exterminate the Jewish race by placing a Jewish girl as Queen to a self-centered King.

*  God sent a baby to a poor virgin girl to save the world.

*  Dipping seven times in a dirty river can cure leprosy.

*  Spit in the dirt; the mud will open blind eyes.

*  If someone treats you badly, return it with love.

I cannot find any example of God saying, "My people, who are called by my name, shall use common sense."  Wrack your brain; can you?

In fact, you can almost test God's will by it not following common sense!

Are you facing a decision?  Do you see an open door of ministry and wonder if God really wants you?  Do you doubt that you could possibly do what God is asking you to do?  Does common sense say you should stay in your pew and keep your mouth shut?  Ah ha!  God is calling you!  And like Moses, if God calls you, He will equip you.  Step out in faith with me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Just 10 minutes

On March 18, 2006, I was sick of being tired all the time, hanging on to baby weight from my last 5 babies, and the perimenapause symptoms I was having at 37 years old.  So I pulled on my snow boots, coat, hat and scarf, and started walking around my backyard.  The ground was slushy.  It was raining/snowing out.  I thought I could die from the effort.  I walked 10 minutes.  And I lived. 

When I got in the house, I was amazed at how ALIVE I felt.  My heart seemed to be buzzing from the flood of oxygen.  I was hooked.  I started walking every day.  Soon 10 minutes wasn't enough.  Then 15 minutes wasn't enough.  I dusted off the exercise bike in my basement, too.  I borrowed a Leslie Sansone walking video from library and fell in love with indoor walking. 

I want to add that one thing I mentally fought with was: "What will the neighbors think?"  It held me back until I decided that what they thought wasn't going to keep me feeling like crap!  And one neighbor did comment.  I answered him and kept on walking! The mental benefits from walking--fresh air, time without kids, feeling muscle in my legs, weightloss, etc.--far outweigh anything the neighbors are thinking!

Today I walked 3 miles with a Leslie Sansone video.  There is no way I could have done it back in 2006.  But I am still amazed at what that first 10 minutes led to!  FlyLady says you can do anything for 15 minutes (except hold your breath.)  This motto has kept me walking and riding the exercise bike many times.  And if you can do anything for 15 minutes, surely you can do it for 10.  So, go on, get moving.  You can do it for 10 minutes