Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Katie-isms, Part 2

Several months ago, I did a post highlighting some of Katie's most commonly-used words. Since then, her vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds, and she has recently started putting words into sentences (!). She never ceases to amaze me with how quickly she picks up on things--and she definitely keeps me chuckling, too! These are some of her favorite things to say--recorded mostly for my sake, and the sake of her Grandma and Great Grandma who I think both wish they could see her sweet self a little more often.

One of her first attempts at sentence-making was, "Where (insert word) ?" This question was most often asked about mommy, daddy, and the neighbor's cows. Her first four word sentence was, "Where did mama go?" Of course, I wasn't around to hear it.

She has lately taken to pointing out pretty things around the house. We put up our Christmas tree and a few other decorations on Friday, and Katie has just gone on and on about how "pritteh" (pretty) they are. She sits and stares and says "Wow, pritteh" in the most awestruck tone. When she's talking to one of us, she'll say, "It pritteh Mama/Dada!" When she wants to show off something of hers, she runs up and says "Wooow!" She also says wow about our things too--this often makes us chuckle. For example, this morning, Ben put on a old, brown, flannel work shirt (nothing particularly lovely--but a shirt she hadn't ever seen him wear) before he left for the shop and she said, "Wow!" Ha!

In addition to admiring pretty things, my girl LOVES to read (which I'm so thankful for!). When she first started expressing to us a desire to read, she'd just bring a book over and give it to us. That progressed into handing us a book and saying "book." In the last week or so, she has taken it up a notch and now says, "Ree da book" (Read the book), or even "Ree da book, Mama." It's really hard to resist!

She also now has names for some of her aunts and uncles. Sam is "Am," Hannah is "Annah," and Elijah and Josiah are both "Yah-Yah." Her grandmothers and great grandmothers are "Manna" and her grandfathers/great grandfathers are "Bapa." She'll point them all out in pictures, and gets VERY excited about an opportunity to see any of them (and she also loves to talk to them on the phone). She says "Hi" and "Bye" (in the most adorable southern belle accent, too!) to loved ones and strangers alike.

In recent weeks, we've been dabbling (without much success) with potty training. So, she has learned some potty words, too. I have to remind her frequently that just because someone goes in the bathroom, they aren't necessarily going "poopoo da potty." Ha!

She has also learned several animals and their sounds. Her favorite animals are dogs and cows (why, yes, we live in the country with lots of cows and dogs nearby ;). She also knows goats ("doat"), pigs (she just calls them "oinkoinkoink"), bees, horses, birds, fishes, bears and several others. She's pretty good at saying the sounds they make, too.

Of late, she has become quite insistent when she requests something, too (usually, in the kitchen). She frequently asks for more (and has to be lovingly reminded to say please, which she pronounces "pah"). She asks for her bowl and her spoon (both pronounced 'boo') quite often as well.

I could list more, but Katie's up from her nap and there's dinner to be made. Katie is such a sweet blessing and really adds such richness to our lives with her sweet spirit and crazy antics. I'm so excited to see how she'll be as a big sister in just a few weeks!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

We keep Christmas pretty simple at our house. One tradition we really enjoy during this season is singing hymns about the birth of Christ during daily family worship. Many of them are so theologically rich and worshipful. I think the familiarity makes it all-too-possible for us to not pay close attention to the words. Over the next few Sundays, I'll be highlighting some of our favorite Advent hymns. What are yours?

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King;
peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled!"
Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumphs of the skies;
with th'angelic host proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King."

Christ, by highest heav'n adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold him come, offspring of the Virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail th'incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King."
Hail the heav'n-born Price of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings, ris'n with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King."
 Words by Charles Wesley

How glorious that Christ saw fit to humble himself and take on the likeness of man and dwell with us, and through His birth, death, and resurrection, make it possible for men to be reconciled to God!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

That Man of Mine

In this late stage of pregnancy, I have become increasingly aware of what a wonderful man the Lord has given me for a husband. Don't get me wrong--I've always known he was wonderful (I mean--I wouldn't have married him otherwise!). But, his sacrificial love and service for me during this stage of life has been such a sweet blessing.

One thing I've noticed--he always keeps up with Katie so I can relax when we're at family or church gatherings. He does it frequently without even breathing a word about it. It's not something he has to do, and it certainly wouldn't be presumptuous for him to expect me to keep up with her some. This was something I'd been completely taking for granted until I really thought about it a few days ago.

Ben's first time holding Katie
 Last week when I was having back trouble before I saw the chiropractor, he made dinner one night and then went out the following morning to get breakfast for us so I was able to stay off my feet. When he's home from work, he spends lots of time with Katie so I can relax. And sometimes, he even does the dinner dishes when I'm especially tired!

It's so funny--before we were married and had a baby (and another one on the way), it would've never occurred to me that acts of service such as these would be such a great blessing and even make my heart go 'pitty-patter' like flowers and chocolates! Ha!

Ben with Katie at just a few days old

Truly, a godly husband is a precious gift from the Lord. May God help me to be the wife he deserves, and to never take him for granted!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Plan, November 22-28

I can't believe it's already Thanksgiving week! TWe are having some good friends come into town this week, and we'll all be spending Thanksgiving over at my in-laws' farm. Our week last week was busy and there were some events I forgot about, so there are some repeats on this week's menu.

Breakfasts: scrambled eggs with baked oatmeal, pancakes, or sweet potato streusel muffins (didn't get to these last week)

Lunches: leftovers, snacks

Monday~Chili, Cornbread
Tuesday~birthday dinner at the farm for Ben's brother
Wednesday~Grandma's Stroganoff, served with brown rice and steamed cauliflower
Thursday-Sunday~meals at the farm with family and friends

For LOTS of meal plan inspiration, check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Menu Plan, November 15-21

I hope y'all are having a great week so far! We've been a little bit busy around here. I had a visit with a local chiropractor yesterday to help with some sciatic nerve pain I started having Friday night. I'm amazed at how much it helped! It's so nice to not be hobbling around. Because I wasn't on my feet much over the weekend, Ben cooked some and we also ate with his family, so there are some repeats on this week's plan.

We got our second shipment of meat from the farm yesterday, which was exciting. It's so neat to have such high quality, locally raised meat delivered right to my door! What a blessing.

Here's what I'm planning to cook this week. What are y'all making?

Breakfasts: whole wheat pancakes, baked oatmeal, and sweet potato struessel muffins--all served with scrambled eggs; quiche

Lunches: smoothies, leftovers, snacks

Monday~Pan-seared T-Bone steaks with creamy pepper sauce, green beans, baked potatoes
Tuesday~Chicken & Dumplings
Wednesday~Chicken Alfredo, green beans
Thursday~Grandma's Stroganoff, steamed cauliflower
Saturday~homemade pizza, fruit
Sunday~at the farm

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On Coming Home: Be Content with Less

To read the first parts of this series, go here.

I think the most important thing you can do to make it possible for you to come home is to be content with less. We live in a very stuff and entertainment driven society. Our houses are packed to the gills with clutter and we spend lots of money just to keep ourselves entertained. Sadly, this mentality causes us to miss out on really living purposeful lives and devoting ourselves to things that are truly important--like a good relationship with the Lord and the people who matter the most to us.

If you're going to choose to part with a big chunk of your income, you'll have to evaluate your spending and figure out what things you can cut out. There's nothing wrong with spending money you have on stuff and entertainment and conveniences, though it is important to examine priorities. If things that are truly non-necessities are keeping you from staying home with your children, I would submit to you that perhaps your priorities are out of line.

Look through your purchase history next time your bank statement comes in the mail. What things do you spend money on that your family really could do without? Could you go down to one car? Downsize to a smaller house? Cut cable TV, or text messaging?

There are also several expenses you won't have if you are staying home: daycare for your children (which can be astronomical!), business clothes for you, lunches out while working, fewer convenience foods since you will have more time to cook from scratch, less wear and tear on your car since you won't be commuting, among many others.

Most importantly, be sure to consider what you are giving up to have the things two incomes can buy. Things have no eternal value. They won't matter a bit once you're gone. However, investing your very best into your families can have a greater impact than we can begin to imagine. That's why, for us, the cost of sacrificing the time I have at home with our daughter (and pretty soon, our son too!) is far greater than we are willing to pay.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Dryer Saga

When we first moved into our home here in Virginia, Ben's parents were kind enough to give us a washer and dryer. They were extras they had at their house (I guess when you have that many people in one house, it doesn't hurt to keep extra appliances around-ha!). The problem: when we got the dryer here, it didn't work. Not a big deal; I just used the clothes line.

A few months ago, Ben's mom surprised me with a dryer she found on Craiglist. It worked really well for about a week--until we had a power surge during a storm while it was running. It was a sad day. For the past couple months, I continued drying clothes on the line or at my in-laws' house if the weather was not suitable for hanging the laundry out.

More recently, it's been too cool most days to hang clothes out, and with a new baby coming (just 6 weeks 'til Benjamin's due-date), I began thinking now would probably be a good time to either get it fixed or get a new (to us) dryer. I think once Benjamin is born, keeping my chores simple and staying home more will be slightly necessary for survival those first few weeks! Thankfully, Ben agreed and we started setting aside some money.

My in-laws know a dryer repairman who they have bought a couple dryers from over the years. When we told him what was going on with our dryer, he was confident he could fix it. We took it to his shop and for $100, he completely rebuilt the dryer. It basically has all new parts and ought to last us a long time!

The day after we brought it home, it wouldn't heat up at all. Thankfully, he has a 30 day guarantee, so two (very long) weeks later, we were finally able to work out a time to bring it back to him. He plugged it in and it worked just fine. He even dried a load of laundry in it! As it turns out, there was just something electrical that needed fixing in our laundry room (the two weeks wouldn't have been so long if we had known that before-ha!).

So, as of yesterday, I am the very happy owner of a (finally!) functioning dryer. My laundry pile hasn't been this small in ages. :)

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan, November 8-14

Colder weather has definitely set in in our neck of the woods. We had to defrost the windshield before we could drive yesterday morning! We've also had the wood-stove burning all the time this week. So thankful my hubby deals with all the firewood hauling and keeps the house warm for us! :)

We are really enjoying the meat from the farm we started buying from. It is so fun to be surprised with a variety of cuts of meat, and have some different things to plan our meals around. And, knowing the quality is so high makes this conscientious mama's heart happy. Yesterday, I finally finished 'doing up' the last of the green beans. We had green beans with dinner just about every night over the last week and we have about 3 1/2 gallons in the freezer to enjoy later. I've never had farm fresh green beans before. They are so delicious!

Here's what I'm planning to cook this week. What's on your meal plans for the week?

Breakfasts: biscuits and gravy, whole wheat pancakes, toast--all served with scrambled eggs; breakfast burritos; quiche

Lunches: homemade pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches and smoothies, leftovers

Monday~Adobo Red Rice, Pinto beans
Tuesday~Chicken Roll-ups with gravy, green beans
Wednesday~Brown Bag Burritos, oranges
Thursday~Rice & Bean Burritos, butternut squash fries
Friday~Pan-Seared T-Bone steak with creamy pepper sauce, green beans
Saturday~homemade pizza, fruit
Sunday~fellowship at church (bringing these to share)

For lots of menu planning inspiration, be sure to head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Coming Home: Why? (Part 2)

If you missed the beginning of this series, you can get caught up here.

As we discussed last week, there are many practical reasons for a wife choosing to be at home over having a full-time job; ministering to the needs of her family by preparing nutritious foods, keeping the home, providing clothes, helping her husband's business, and ministering on behalf of her family to those outside her household are just a few.

Aside from all those (very important!) tasks, though, is perhaps the most important reason a woman should choose to stay home. That is, to disciple her children. When you become a mother, your children become your life's most important work. Training them to love and serve Christ is one of your absolute most important priorities as long as they are in your home. In each of your children, there is huge potential for Kingdom-advancement, not only in their lives personally, but also in the generations that follow them. Raising your children to follow Christ has the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of people with the gospel.

Just think about it. I'll use my in-laws as an example. They have nine children. If all nine of their children persevere in the faith and go on to have even five children each (and, I know for sure several of them--including us!--are hoping for very large families if the Lord is willing), that is forty-five grandchildren. If those grandchildren have five children each, that is 225 great grandchildren. That makes for a potential of 279 disciples in just three generations! And, those 279 disciples will most likely not just influence their own children for Christ, but many in the communities around them.

If Ben's parents had slacked in their duties and failed to disciple their children, that potential would have been lost; no amount of 'ministry' or other work they could have done would have made up for the loss of disciples the generations following them could have produced.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, parents are given a clear mandate for the discipleship of their children:

4  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

How can we best obey this mandate? Spending time with our children. Of course, there needs to be formal instruction time, but nothing will make up for living out a life of obedience before their eyes and using "teachable moments" as they present themselves. If both parents are gone all day working, it is inevitable that someone will have a greater influence on their children than they do. Since God has given the husband the burden of providing for the family and has called women to be at home, moms have the role of discipling the children in the father's absence.

So, why come home? At work you can be replaced. Most likely, you and your family can learn to live without a second income. However, no one else can be a mother to your children.

As a side note: I am in no way trying to condemn those of you who, for one reason or another, are absolutely not able to stay at home with your children. Obviously, if you are a single mom, your husband is disabled and can't work, or something of that nature, you have no choice but to work to provide. Next week, we'll begin talking about how to come home; hopefully some of you will be able to use some of those tips to be able to spend more time at home even if you can't completely leave the work force.

Friday, November 5, 2010

We just played

The other day at lunchtime, I shared a smoothie with Katie and she (of course) made a huge mess of herself. After we finished eating, we headed to her room to get her some new clothes. After I got her dressed, we stayed in her room for a while and we played.

We tried on clothes and shoes. Katie ended up in a silly outfit complete with a summer hat and snow boots. I, too, ended up wearing a (much-too-small) toddler hat and a little pink hair bow, both of which Katie picked out just for me. There were lots of tickles, giggles and sweet baby hugs. And for this mama? A few tears too (pregnancy hormone-induced, I do believe).

That hour spent on the floor in Katie's room was such a sweet reminder of the precious blessing the Lord has given me in having this season of life at home with my daughter. Sure, I spend most of my time every day with her; we read books, we clean together, we 'talk'. Too often, though, when she goes in her room to play, she plays all by herself. While I definitely see the importance of regular independent play, I will not soon forget how happy it made her just to have her mama in there playing with her.

One of these days, my sweet, chubby, blue-eyed baby girl will be too big to play with her mama. I know when that time comes, I won't look back and regret leaving the lunch dishes for a little later; however, I may very well regret not taking more time to just play when I could have. So for now? I think we'll just play together a little more often. And folks, that's definitely one of life's finer things.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oxygen Bleach Review & Giveaway

 **The winner of last week's Febreze giveaway was comment #41. She has been notified by e-mail.**

Since we got married, I have chosen to use only natural cleaners, save one: bleach. I mainly have just used it for cleaning the toilets and making the occasional white load of laundry come out whiter. I hadn't tried any toilet bowl cleaners that worked as well as regular ol' bleach. When I was given the opportunity to review Tropical Tradition's Oxygen Bleach, I went for it!

From the Tropical Traditions website:
Tropical Traditions Oxygen Bleach is a safe and effective alternative to chlorine based products and it can be used in many applications in and around the home. It is based on sodium percarbonate which uses oxygen for destaining and deodorizing. Oxygen Bleach is safe to use at all temperatures, on most washable fabrics, and all colors, in hard or soft water, and is compatible with other household cleaners. Also, it produces no harmful by-products which negatively affect the environment. Unlike chlorine bleach, which can merely cover up a stain, Tropical Traditions Oxygen Bleach attacks and breaks down organic stains to totally remove them from the garment.

I have used it for the past two weeks for cleaning our bathrooms, and I have been very pleased with the results. Much like chlorine bleach, I put a little bit (2oz., per the instructions on the container) into the toilet, let it sit for a while, and then swish it around with my toilet brush and voila! White toilets with almost no effort. I haven't yet used it for any other cleaning, though the list of applications is very long.

In addition to providing me with a 6lb. container of Oxygen Bleach to review, Tropical Traditions has kindly offered to give away a container of their Oxygen Bleach to one of y'all! To enter, just leave a comment on this post.

For additional entries, you can follow me on twitter (@mrsmurch), follow Tropical Traditions on twitter (@TropTraditions), tweet about this giveaway and include @mrsmurch and @troptraditions (and a link to this post!), subscribe to the Tropical Traditions newsletter, and/or subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS Feed. Please leave a separate comment for each entry! This giveaway will close next Wednesday.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Incorporating locally grown food into our meals (Menu Plan, November 1-7)

This Saturday, I ventured to the Farmer's Market in 'the big city' for the first time since we moved here last summer. I was able to get some great deals, and it was exciting to buy locally grown produce. I paid $5 for half a bushel of unsprayed green beans! We're enjoying them with meals this week, but I'm blanching and freezing most of them to enjoy through the winter (and beyond, probably--it's a lot of green beans!). I was also able to get some butternut squash for $1/lb. This is a new food for us--Ben and I have never had it! I also got a couple different varieties of pumpkins, which I'm planning to leave out to look pretty for a bit and then I'll cook them up.

Recently, Ben and I also decided to start getting our meats from a local farm. We finally made the plunge after our Kroger went about a month without organic chicken and raised the price of their hormone/antibiotic free ground beef. $6-$7 for ground beef is just too much, y'all! We found a farm nearby that raises their animals naturally on pastures, and they have a meat CSA program. We will get a delivery of beef and a whole chicken every other week. We got the first delivery yesterday and I'm really pleased! It's fun to have a variety of cuts of meat to work with (this shipment we got a chuck roast, T-Bone steaks, stew meat, and ground beef), and the average price per pound works out to less than the "good" ground beef at Kroger, and this is much higher quality! Supporting a local farm and getting higher quality food for less? No brainer!
Here's our menu plan for this week:

Breakfasts: scrambled eggs and sausage served with grits, pancakes, or muffins
Lunches: sandwiches (PB & J or grilled cheese), leftovers, rice & beans, smoothies

Monday~We had stew meat and gravy over mashed potatoes with green beans on the side
Tuesday~leftovers, with coconut custard for dessert (haven't made this yet--if it's good, I'll share the recipe!)
Wednesday~Chicken roll-ups with gravy, green beans
Friday~Italian Roast Beef over pasta with butternut squash on the side
Saturday~our usual homemade pizza night