Wednesday, December 29, 2010

He's here!

Benjamin Joel, Jr.
Born at home 12/28/2010 at 1:48am
22 1/4inches, 9lbs 5oz.

My soul doth magnify the Lord,  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden...For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
(Luke 1:46-50)

More pictures and a birth story to come. For the next several days, though, I'm going to focus on  resting up enjoying my son!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grandma's Chex Mix and a giveaway!

Growing up, I remember my Grandma always having homemade Chex Mix around her house at Christmastime. I wanted to share her recipe with y'all. When I called her to get it, she told me she uses the one on the box of cereal ("classic chex mix"). Even so, in my mind, it will always be Grandma's Chex mix!
Here's the recipe:
3 cups each Corn, Rice, and Wheat Chex cereals
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup bagel chips (Grandma usually puts White Cheddar Cheez-Its instead)
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Heat oven to 250*. In a large, ungreased roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

I was recently contacted by MyBlogSpark about a promotion Kroger is running in conjunction with Chex cereal. Through December 25, Chex are on sale so you can make delicious holiday Chex Mix on a budget! MyBlogSpark sent me a package with two boxes of Chex cereal and a $25 Kroger giftcard so I could check out the sale for myself, and they have offered to send one of y'all a prize pack as well!

To enter the giveaway, please comment on this post. Easy enough! For additional entries, you can share your favorite Chex Mix recipe, follow me on twitter (@mrsmurch), and/or subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed. Please leave a separate comment for each entry! The giveaway will close this Friday evening, December 24.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pregnancy Update: 40 Weeks!

Earlier today--exactly 40 weeks pregnant!
 Well, today is the due-date, but apparently little Benjamin missed the memo! My absence the past week wasn't because I had a baby without telling y'all! My birthday was last week and my mom came into town on Friday to be here for the birth and my recovery. I've been enjoying spending time with her, and blogging has been pretty far from my mind--I'm sure you can understand! It's such an exciting time around here.

I had a check-up with my midwife yesterday, and everything still looks good. I haven't had a single high blood pressure reading the entire pregnancy, which I am so thankful for! I also have basically no swelling or water retention. My wedding rings even still fit--I had to take them off two months before Katie was born because they were too tight. I've also only gained 21 pounds this pregnancy, instead of twice that like I did last time. I think our current diet versus the way we used to eat, as well as being much more active have helped me stay so much healthier this time around.

Surprisingly at 40 weeks pregnant, I am feeling really good. I don't have many aches and pains. There is some difficulty with bending over and rolling over in bed, but certainly nothing intolerable. I'm so thankful to have had two relatively easy pregnancies. I know some women are just totally miserable for the entire 9 months! The only reason I'm anxious to not be pregnant anymore is because I am just SO excited to meet this precious baby and hold him in my arms, not because I'm exhausted and sick and tired of being pregnant.

Yesterday my midwife checked, and I was 2cm dilated and 40% effaced. Not a whole lot--but I guess that's 2 centimeters I don't have to deal with during labor! I've been having some contractions off and on, but nothing consistent enough to convince this little guy to make his appearance. So for now, we wait...!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So thankful

Since we moved to Virginia, we have heated our house with a wood burning stove. Since my in-laws have a large property with plenty of trees, this has been a free alternative to heating our home with the electric furnace (which we learned the hard way would cost almost triple what we pay for rent in a month!). Ben meticulously maintains the stove and pipes to make sure they're clean and things are burning properly.

This Sunday we had quite a scare--we experienced our first (and hopefully only) chimney fire. We came home from church and Ben was stoking the fire before we headed to the farm to spend the afternoon and evening as we always do on Sundays. Just before we headed out the door, he noticed the fire was really raging, which hasn't ever really happened before. All of a sudden he started saying, "We have a problem." And we sure did. There was a fire in the pipes and they had started to turn red from being so hot. Ben dumped water over the pipe and went to get more, and by the time he came back with a filled bucket, the entire pipe was red and part of it was melting, which could've allowed the fire to spread quickly through the house. The fire was burning much harder than we could have contained with water, so Ben used the fire extinguisher.

I try not to be overly attached to stuff, but all the same--some of our stuff is a little more than just stuff, and parting with all of it all in one day would have been really hard. I am so thankful that, in the mercy of God, we had a fire extinguisher, and that Ben was there to handle the situation. If not, we may have had to stand outside and watch our house burn down waiting for a fire truck to get there.

As a side: We're not sure what caused the fire, but Ben is cleaning/replacing the pipes and we're having a professional chimney sweep come to tell us what's going on.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

As with Gladness, Men of Old

 This is a less-known advent hymn. The words are so rich and full of truth. It's sung to the tune of "For the Beauty of the Earth."

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!
Words by William C. Dix

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pregnancy Update, 38 weeks

I fully intended to have a picture with this update, but as of yesterday I'm sick, and I am somewhat disinclined to post a photo of myself in maternity yoga pants and a t-shirt for all the world to see. I'll do another update next week (maybe the last one with Baby Boy on the inside!) and hopefully have a picture to go along with that one!

So, today I am 38 weeks and two days pregnant, putting me just 12 short days away from my due date! I can hardly believe how fast this pregnancy has gone by, and am getting quite anxious to meet this sweet little man who's been my constant companion for the past (almost) 9 months.

Besides being sick since yesterday, I have been feeling surprisingly good for being as far along in pregnancy as I am. I'm not sleeping as well as usual, due to frequent bathroom trips and the need to switch which side I'm sleeping on to keep my poor hips from aching. As a result, I have been a little more tired than usual and have slowed my pace down a little bit--which is probably needful at 9 months pregnant regardless of how well you're sleeping!

I had a check-up with my midwife yesterday and everything's looking pretty good. I've gained 19 pounds so far, and measured 38cms. Thankfully, my blood pressure is still completely fine (at 38 weeks with Katie, it was 130/90 at my check-up), and I am getting more and more hopeful that this baby can actually be born at home! The other good news we got was that my Group-B Strep screen came back negative--I was positive  when I was pregnant with Katie and had IV antibiotics during my labor, so I'm pretty excited about the negative results this time. She checked my hemoglobin and glucose as well, and both were good.

This past Friday, I had contractions for a couple hours and we got a little bit excited about the possibility of meeting our boy, but they stopped and I haven't had any since. Thankfully, it was a reminder that I needed to finish gathering all the supplies we need to have here at home for when he actually does decide to make his appearance. So, I now have all the supplies I need in a box in our room--complete with granola bars and some other healthy snacks. Labor's hard work, you know!

It's almost surreal that within a few weeks, I'll get to meet my sweet baby boy and hold him in my arms for the first time. My mom is coming up the 17th and will stay with us for a couple weeks, which will be so nice. It's hard to wrap my mind around what it will be like to be home with TWO little ones during the day, and I'm sure having Mom here to help with the transition will make it a lot easier--especially since I've been told I'll need to go two weeks without lifting Katie!

How are all you other pregnant mamas doing? Has anyone had their babies since the last pregnancy update? I'd love to hear!

And now, I'll go back to resting, drinking tea, and taking vitamin c, echinacea, raw garlic, and Juice Plus in hopes of getting better quickly and regaining my strength for the big day! My mother-in-law is going to bring some of her delicious soup over for dinner tonight--isn't that so sweet?!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Easy Peasy Chili

When I made chili before Ben and I were married, it had onions and plenty of peppers (including a jalapeno or two). However, Ben hates (with a very deep passion) peppers and onions, and prefers no tomato chunks, but he loves chili. After we got married, I experimented and finally figured out a way to make tasty chili that he still loves.

Because it doesn't have many ingredients, it's really simple to make, and it has become a go-to around here, especially on days we have to be somewhere in the evening. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes to put together and can sit in the crock pot all day, or it can simmer on the stove for just a little bit before you eat it and it still tastes good--though it does get better the longer it cooks! If you have some ground beef already cooked, it takes just minutes to put together. This quantity serves our family two dinners plus a little leftover after that.

We've been having some pretty cold days here lately, and since chili is so great on a cold day, I thought I'd share our recipe with y'all!

1 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic
3 cans of beans (I use pinto, kidney, and black), drained and rinsed
2 cans of tomato sauce
1/2 can water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and black pepper to taste (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of each)

Brown the ground beef along with the garlic. You can add an onion or onion powder here if you'd like (and even some peppers). Once the beef is cooked, add all the ingredients to a pot and simmer until you're ready to eat. Top with cheese, sour cream, or whatever else suits your fancy. It goes really well with corn bread on the side, too. Sadly, we've been eating ours without cornbread, because when I have cornbread at the table, that's ALL Katie will eat! Ha!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan, December 6-12

At 38 weeks pregnant (!), I'm trying to keep our meals mostly pretty simple, while still healthy and tasty. This is what we're planning to eat this week, assuming this little man we are anxiously waiting to meet doesn't decide to make his appearance.

Breakfasts: scrambled eggs served with cheesy grits, baked oatmeal, or pancakes

Lunches: warm shredded chicken sandwiches, PB & J, grilled cheese, snacks, leftovers

Monday & Tuesday~chili
Wednesday~Italian Roast Beef over pasta, salad
Thursday~beef tacos with salsa, beans, lettuce, etc.
Saturday~Rib Eye steaks, baked potatoes, salad
Sunday~at the farm

What are y'all fixing this week?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Toothpaste Fail and a Giveaway

Around our house, we do a lot of things naturally. We eat a mostly organic/whole foods diet, we use natural cleaning products, and we don't take much medicine. One area of our lives I haven't overhauled (yet!) is toiletries. This is partly because I can get most of our shampoo, toothpaste, etc., for free or better using the CVS Extra Care Bucks program, and partly because I'm just used to conventional toiletries.

Lately, I have been looking into switching things over, beginning with toothpaste. I have been using natural, fluoride-free toothpaste for Katie as long as I've been brushing her teeth, but Ben and I use the regular ol' sweet fluoride toothpaste for ourselves. I've read about the problems with using these kinds of tooth pastes, but just hadn't gone ahead and made the change.

Katie recently discovered she can carry a stool around the house and reach all kinds of things she couldn't reach before. And, until the other day when I caught her swallowing toothpaste from a tube she had gotten off the bathroom counter, I thought I had just about everything 'bad' out of her reach. I wasn't sure how much she had gotten, though it couldn't have been much since I'd only had her out of my sight for a very short while. But, I was concerned nonetheless and went ahead and called the poison control center (for the first time ever). They said all I needed to do was give her some milk and she should be fine. The lady said the calcium in the milk binds with the fluoride and keeps it from being absorbed. Thankfully, Katie loves milk and that was that.

After that incident, I was especially glad when a box arrived from Tropical Traditions containing my next product to review--all natural teeth cleaner! I have used it, and it's definitely different than regular toothpaste. It tastes WAY different--it's not very sweet at all. When I first had it in my mouth, I honestly thought it tasted terrible, but within one tooth-brushing the taste grew on me and I don't mind it at all. It also doesn't foam up in your mouth like regular toothpaste, but as it turns out, foamy-ness isn't at all necessary to get your teeth clean. It does the job perfectly well, leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean, AND if your toddler happens to swallow it, there's no need to call the poison control center. All the ingredients in it are perfectly safe for human consumption.

Tropical Traditions has kindly offered to send one of y'all some of their organic teeth cleaner to try for yourselves! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post. The giveaway will be open until next Thursday, December 9.

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!

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.