Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Plan, January 31-February 5

Where did January go? We are settling into more of a routine, which is really nice. I love having some predictability to our day. I think it's good for all of us. I'm still keeping things pretty simple in the kitchen, and it's working well for now. We're still eating healthy--just faster meals and more leftovers. Here's what's on the plan for this week.

scrambled eggs with toast or grits
pumpkin bread (making a triple batch--it freezes really well!)
cheesy potato pie
pancakes (batter refrigerates well and lasts for two or three breakfasts for us when I serve with eggs)

sandwiches (PB & J, PB & banana, grilled cheese)

Monday~Mom's chicken tacos, rice & beans
Wednesday~meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad
Friday~biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, fried apples (hubby's request :)
Saturday~clean out the fridge
Sunday~dinner with my in-laws at the farm

For more menu plans, head over to OrgJunkie!

$6 for a box of gently used children's clothes

I don't usually post much about deals, but one from DealPulp caught my attention today enough to actually buy it. They are running a deal for a website called thredUP.

The idea behind this website is swapping children's clothes. When you sign up with thredUP, you can pay $5 + shipping for a box of gently used clothes. You select the size and gender, and you choose the box yourself from a list. Most members describe the contents of the box so you can have a pretty good idea what you're getting. Once you choose a box, you are supposed to list one.

With today's deal, you can try out thredUP for just $6 including shipping. Normally, buying a box of clothes without swapping is $15.95, so this is really a great deal! The promo code you receive will be good for one year. Katie needs some clothes (particularly pants), so I'm excited to give this a try!

How do y'all get clothes for your children without breaking the bank?

Disclosure: DealPulp has an affiliate program and if you order through my link, I'll receive a small compensation. I wouldn't share this with you unless I thought it was something worth looking into though. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

He smiled.


It was about 6:45 yesterday morning. Benjamin had been awake about an hour (after waking up at 1, eating for 40 minutes, and then staying up for another 40 minutes until I nursed him to sleep--something I don't usually do), and I couldn't help but wonder why he suddenly decided to make the dark, wee hours of the morning his social time. I was tired, and I really wanted to go back to sleep. I knew the interrupted 6 and a half-ish hours of sleep I'd gotten weren't quite enough to get me through the day with a busy toddler and a newborn. While we snuggled, I worked on catching up on my Bible reading. Wanting to see if he was getting drowsy, I glanced down at my little man's face. Far from drowsy, he was wide awake, his big blue eyes {that sometimes look like they're threatening to turn brown} staring up at me.

Then he smiled his first smile. Just for me. Then he did it again, as if he knew I was wondering whether it was really a smile I had just seen on his sweet face. And, I was reminded {again} that the lack of sleep, the extra dust bunnies, the paper plates, the laundry piles--it's all so worth it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Goals: January

I know most people do these posts at the beginning of January, but I was pretty preoccupied  with a certain 4-day-old boy on New Year's Day, so I figure it's better late than never. So, here are my goals for this year. They're all very doable and not overly ambitious--which I think is important for this season of life.

::Read through the Bible. This means about 3 chapters every day, which I'm trying to do when Benjamin wakes up for his early morning feeding around 5:30 or 6. So far, I'm all caught up and approaching the end of Exodus. I'm following the daily readings in the Motivated Moms planner.

::Review previously memorized Scriptures. Over the past several years, I've memorized Matthew 5-7, Proverbs 31:10-31, Psalm 51, Titus, James, and most recently, Philippians. Unfortunately, I don't know most of them anymore. This year instead of trying to do a big, new memorization project, I'm going to start with re-memorizing the passages I've already memorized. I have Philippians down pretty well and have started working through Matthew 5 again.

::Get back to my pre-Katie weight. Thankfully, the 20 pounds I gained this pregnancy are all gone as of this week (!). Unfortunately, I'm still hanging onto about 25 pounds that I gained when I was pregnant with Katie. I had hoped to lose those in 2010, but then Benjamin came along and changed my plans! Once I get the OK after my 6-week check-up, I'm planning to begin exercising again. I'm hoping that between eating our normal healthy food, breastfeeding this little porker, and exercising, I won't need to "go on a diet" to lose the weight, but I guess we'll see.

::Start an emergency fund and pay off our debt. Thankfully, this should be accomplished within a couple weeks--much sooner than we expected, thanks in part to our tax return! *happy dance*

::Potty train Katie. Since she'll be approaching 3 by year's end, I really, really hope we can accomplish this! Do you seasoned mommies have any tips? I got her to use the potty a few times before Benjamin was born, and the last time she went #2 in the potty, it really bothered her to see it in the potty and she has been very resistant to the whole idea since then.

::Work school into my schedule again. I would like to finish 6 classes this year (2 are almost done--I just need to write the final papers) which would complete my freshman credits, but I'm not sure if this is realistic or not. I'll have to see how things go once we get into more of a routine. However, I would like to be able to spend time on classes at least a few times per week.

What are your goals for this year? Do you have plans in place to make them happen?


We had quite the snow yesterday afternoon/evening. I was thankful we didn't have to go anywhere! It sure was nice to fix some hot chocolate, snuggle up with Ben, watch a movie, and admire the snow from inside.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cloth diapering

One plunge we have taken this time around that we didn't when Katie was younger is using cloth diapers. I started when Benjamin was about a week old with six bumGenius 4.0 diapers I bought from Nurtured Family with money that was given to us as a baby gift. We have since had one FuzziBunz one-size diaper added to our stash as a gift and I'm planning to order another 6 FuzziBunz next week.

Benjamin sporting his Bluberry FuzziBunz diaper--doesn't he look adorable?!
So far, cloth diapering is working really well for me and I really don't know why I ever hesitated! Changing diapers doesn't really take any extra time, and one extra load of laundry during the day really isn't a big deal. With the seven diapers we have, I use about one disposable per day. Once we have the extra 6 diapers, we will have about $230 worth of diapers plus some accessories (a diaper pail, a wet bag for the diaper bag, cloth wipes, and cloth wipes solution). The diapers will definitely pay for themselves over the next couple years, and even more so if we are able to use them for another baby, which I anticipate we will! Happy Housewife has a great cost breakdown here that even includes the cost of electricity to wash them.

While cost was definitely a large consideration in our decision to switch to cloth diapers, stewardship was a close second. While I was pregnant with Benjamin, I read an article about diapers (I don't remember where) that said they take over 200 years to break down in landfills and the average baby uses one ton of diapers from birth to potty training. Now, I'm not super green, but I do believe God requires us to be good stewards of what He has provided and I don't think unnecessarily putting thousands of pounds of diapers in landfills during the course of my childbearing years is very good stewardship.  Additionally, most brands of disposable diapers have harsh chemicals in them that aren't very good for our sweet babies!

What about y'all? Cloth or disposable, or both?

As a side, Katie is still in disposable diapers and we don't plan to switch her over. She only uses a few diapers each day and will hopefully potty train in the not-too-distant future.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday and Frugal Friday.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan, January 24-30

So, I feel like we're finally getting into somewhat of a routine (sort of). Since my mom went home, I have definitely begun to see the (at least for me) necessity of cooking ahead. Lately, I start working on dinner right after breakfast. It never fails that Benjamin needs to eat at 5:30 or 6 when I would normally be getting dinner ready. Having it mostly done ahead of time definitely helps tremendously! Anyway, I'm still keeping things relatively simple around here, though I do find I'm having a little more energy--this boy is going to be an entire month old on Friday! I can hardly believe it!

Anyway, here's what we're eating this week. What are y'all fixin'?

cold cereal (with raw milk)
baked oatmeal (with apples and cranberries), scrambled eggs
pancakes, scrambled eggs
cheesy potato pie, banana bread

sandwiches (egg salad, PB and J, PB and Banana, grilled cheese)

Monday~Chicken Pot Pie (leftover from a meal a family from church brought on Saturday)
Tuesday~Swiss Steak, mashed potatoes, salad
Thursday~beef tacos, rice and beans
Saturday~lasagna, salad

For more menu plans, check out OrgJunkie!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

SIt up straight!

Yesterday afternoon I was laying on the sofa with Benjamin and I started having a lot of pain in my upper abdomen, across the front near my breast bone. The pain quickly wrapped around my back and before long was some of the most excruciating pain I've ever experienced outside of labor. I had no idea what could be wrong, and I was pretty seriously considering a trip to the ER (and as y'all know--I definitely prefer to stay out of hospitals). Before we took that measure, I decided to give my midwife a call and she said the symptoms sounded like pain she had once before when she pulled a rib out of place. She suggested I call the chiropractor and see if she could see me right away.

Thankfully, she was able to fit me in in the evening just before she closed for the day, and it turned out I did have a rib out of place, as well as a severe muscle spasm. She said there is a good chance that the cause was poor posture while breastfeeding! Apparently after childbirth, the hormones cause your ligaments to be much looser and with pressure on your back from slouching, they don't hold you together as well as usual. The adjustment helped tremendously and I feel pretty much 100% better today.

The chiropractor said some ways to remedy the problem are keeping a pillow behind my lower back while nursing and making sure to use my Boppy pillow since it raises the baby up and keeps me from needing to hunch over. In addition, she said if I start to feel out of whack, try laying flat on my back on the hard floor to help things straighten out  and apply moist heat (a rice sock or a microwaved wet towel) for 10-15 minutes at a time.

Just wanted to share that with those of you who will be nursing babies in the near future!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why homebirth?

On a recent post, a reader asked:
I have never birthed a child and I am just curious as to why so many people are choosing home births now. I imagine it's nice to be in a familiar setting, but I was wondering if you could fill me in. :)
The decision to give birth outside the hospital surprises a lot of people these days, when just about everyone gives birth in the hospital and wouldn't imagine they'd want it any other way. When we found out I was pregnant with Katie, our research led us to the decision that out-of-hospital birth was the best option for us for several reasons.

1) It's just as safe as hospital birth, with fewer unnecessary interventions.

For healthy women who are pregnant with healthy babies, it is very rare that birth turns into a medical emergency. Statistically, planned, midwife assisted home births are just as safe as low-risk hospital births. That said, a major benefit to being under the care of a midwife and giving birth outside the hospital is avoiding  unnecessary interventions. Women who deliver in hospitals are much more likely to have episiotomies, medical inductions (which can cause the baby to go into distress, among other risks), c-sections, and of course epidurals (which, despite how common they are certainly come with risks). About 1/3 of women in America give birth by c-section, and this in particular was something we really wanted to avoid, mainly because it can complicate the desire to have a large family.

With both of my pregnancies, there is a good chance medical induction would have been pushed if I had been under the care of a doctor. My labor with Katie was long and slow (about 36 hours from the start of early labor to her birth) and Benjamin was a week past his due date. Both situations were uncomfortable, but my babies and I were healthy and didn't need medical assistance to speed the process. I'm so glad we avoided it.

2) Lower risk of being exposed to infection. 
Hospitals are for sick people, and though the staff generally attempts to create a sterile environment, it's not always possible. While the environment at home is certainly not sterile, it is generally free from dangerous and even deadly bacteria and viruses. Babies born in hospitals are four times more likely to suffer from infection than babies born at home. According to this article, more people die every year from hospital-acquired infection than from all other accidental deaths combined. 

3) Midwives give better care.
This is, of course, subjective and probably depends greatly on the specific midwives and doctors. In general, midwives are known for their very personal and intimate care. I know my health care providers from both pregnancies quickly became (and have stayed) friends. They took time to talk and answer questions at each prenatal appointment and were very accessible in between appointments. Additionally, the postpartum care was excellent. The midwife who took care of me during my first pregnancy was instrumental in our breastfeeding success, which I am so thankful for!

Also, midwives are trained to deal with problems naturally using herbs and homeopathics rather than automatically resorting to pharmaceuticals. I much prefer natural methods whenever possible, and being under the care of someone trained to use them properly is a big plus for me.

4) It's more affordable.
Of course if we thought the hospital was a safer place to be for birth, this wouldn't be an issue and we'd gladly spend the money it would cost to deliver in the hospital. However, in our minds, we're paying much less for something far superior. All of the expenses for my care over the course of my pregnancy with Benjamin were under $4000 (and were paid in full by other families who are members of Samaritan). As you may have read if you've been around this blog a while, Katie was born at the hospital after a transfer. The expenses were much higher.

All that said, my hospital birth was not a bad experience and I was still able to have the natural birth I had hoped for. However, after giving birth at home, I would never choose anything different. However, if the need for medical intervention were to arise, I'm really thankful we could get to a hospital and have that care relatively quickly. It really is a blessing for it to be available in case of emergencies.

What about y'all? Do you prefer to have your babies at the hospital, a birthing center, or at home?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I can't believe my wee little baby is already three weeks old. The time is just flying by! Our life has certainly changed a lot in the past three weeks. My mom was here for the first two weeks of Benjamin's life and it was such a blessing to have her help and fellowship! She left last Monday and I've been 'on my own' with of my children. Life with a two year old and a newborn has certainly presented its own set of challenges, but the blessings are manifold. I am so thankful to the Lord for my two sweet babies!

Once Mom left, I tried to start doing everything--all the chores in my Motivated Moms Planner, cooking all our meals, keeping the house clean and keeping up with a busy toddler while nursing a newborn several times a day and a couple times during the night. I very quickly learned I wouldn't be able to keep up. And, that's okay--thankfully, my husband agreed. So, I've been just trying to keep up with the most important chores (cooking, keeping the kitchen clean, and laundry) and I've had some help with the rest. ;)

Our meals have been simple, we've been eating lots of leftovers, and our house has been far from spotless. We've even been using paper towels and paper napkins.  And, that's okay for now. Eventually, I'll be able to keep up with things like I did before. At the present, getting rest and snuggling my new baby are far more important--as I learned last time around, babies just don't keep.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A few pictures

Benjamin at an hour and a half old

Meeting her baby brother for the first time

I sure do love my babies <3

our family and my parents

My midwife gave us this onesie--so thankful for our homebirth!
Ben, Benjamin Jr., Ben's Dad, and Ben's Grandfather--four generations of Murch men

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan, January 17-23

So, last week was my first week back in the kitchen since Benjamin was born. My Mom went home last Monday. It was so nice to have her help and sweet fellowship while she was here! Needless to say, I'm keeping our meals relatively simple these days--and shooting to have them mostly prepared before Benjamin's 5/6 o'clock feeding so we can still eat at a reasonable hour. Here's what we're eating this week.

Eggs with toast (x2)
Baked oatmeal with scrambled eggs (x3)
Cheesy Potato Pie and banana bread (x2)

leftovers, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, beans and cornbread

hamburgers, homemade fries (x2)
ham, mashed potatoes, salad
Italian Roast Beef with pasta, salad
Southwest roll-ups
dinner at the farm

PS: I *plan* to post more pictures of our sweet boy this week. I've been meaning to, but haven't actually gotten around to getting them off the camera! {{whoops!}}

For hundreds more menu plans, head over to OrgJunkie.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Benjamin's Birth Story

 I plan to be back to normal blogging next week. Thanks for putting up with my absence! I am thankful to have recovered quite well from birth and am feeling really good, aside from the sleep deprivation that comes with being the mother of a newborn. :)

On December 20, the day before my due-date, my midwife came over for a prenatal check-up. When we scheduled one for the following week, we both assumed it was just a formality--surely my baby would make his appearance within the week! To our surprise, the morning of December 27 found my mom and me making the trek to Lynchburg after contractions over Christmas weekend failed to get my little guy out (though they did manage to be consistent enough to cause my midwife to leave her family Christmas gathering over two hours away).

When my midwife did an exam, we found that I was 4cm dilated, 80% effaced, and Baby was pretty low. We decided to go ahead and give castor oil a try, quite confident it would do the trick. Mom and I stopped to pick up a few things (castor oil included) on the way home. When we got home, we had some lunch and then around 1:25 I mixed up 2oz. of castor oil with some kefir smoothie in the blender and gulped it down--not too bad.  Katie went down for a nap and I took a hot shower, got on some cozy sweatpants and a t-shirt and took a seat on my exercise ball. An hour after the first dose, I took the rest of the bottle of castor oil--another two ounces. Within about 20 minutes, I started having some stronger contractions. Yes!

Over the next hour, my contractions continued and we decided I didn’t need to bother with the third dose of castor oil. I walked around the house, bounced on the exercise ball and the contractions continued to get stronger. Around 7, I talked to my midwife and we decided she would come after Katie went down for the night. My contractions were strong and close together, but not lasting a full minute like we thought they should be.  My midwife arrived just before 10. Katie was tucked into bed and my contractions continued to get stronger. I started having some back pain as well. Leslie checked me and I was still at 4, but Benjamin was much lower and I was completely effaced.

Shortly after that, Ben, Mom, and Leslie started getting the birthing tub set up. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the water hook-up and it would only fill it with cold water, so they had to fill it with boiling water from the stove! Ben did eventually get the hot water working, but by that time, the tub was almost completely full. My contractions were getting a lot stronger, and I really wanted to get in the water, so at midnight, Leslie checked me and I was at 5. I was definitely hoping to be more dilated than that, but was relived to have progressed enough to get in the tub.

For a while (I‘m told it was around 20 minutes, though I don‘t really remember myself!), the hot water provided some very welcome relief. After that point, however, my contractions got much stronger and the back pain became pretty unbearable. Up until then, having someone rub my lower back had provided some relief, but now it seemed like absolutely nothing would help with the pain. At some point, I decided to use the bathroom and never ended up getting back in the tub. Leslie and Dorcas--another midwife who was assisting her--took turns squeezing my hips really hard and that took some of the edge of the back pain. The also had me try a couple different positions to see if that would help open things up a bit. Finally, Ben brought the ball into the bedroom and I sat on that through one contraction.

After that contraction, I climbed into bed on all fours and felt a slight burning sensation, so I asked, “Do you see his head?”  Dorcas rushed to get my mom and the assistant in the room. I never got an overpowering urge to push, and really did not put a whole lot of effort into pushing. It was like my body just took over. Within two minutes, at 1:48, Benjamin was born!

Since I delivered him on my hands and knees, Leslie placed him between my legs as soon as he was out. I was overwhelmed at the sight of my sweet son, and so thankful we had been able to stay home for his birth. Once Benjamin was wrapped in a towel and snuggled up with me in the bed, Leslie checked and I only had a minor tear that didn’t require any stitches, which surprised me since Benjamin was over a pound larger than Katie and came out even quicker than she did! My placenta was delivered pretty quickly and once the cord stopped pulsing, Ben cut it.

None of the things that went wrong with Katie’s birth--high blood pressure, tearing, and extra bleeding--came up this time. My labor was about 10 hours from the start of early labor to the birth. Giving birth at home was one of the sweetest experiences of my life. Leslie, Dorcas, and Allison were amazing; I couldn’t have asked for a better team of ladies assisting my birth. Ben was an amazing help as well--what a blessing to have a godly husband who knows exactly what I need during labor! And of course, I was so glad my mom was able to be there; I really can’t imagine giving birth without her right there.  Besides the pain (which I suppose is typical of an unmedicated birth!), Benjamin’s birth was everything I hoped and prayed it would be. 

We are so thankful to the Lord for blessing us with another precious child. May he grow up to be a faithful servant of Christ and be used mightily for the advancement of His Kingdom!

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.