Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm back!

Hey y'all! Thanks so much for kindly sticking around while I took a couple weeks away from blogging. I am still trying to figure out the best way to manage my time in order to honor the Lord by serving my sweet family, and find the balance between not running myself ragged and not being lazy. Probably by the time I have it "all figured out" with two children, the Lord will add another little one to our family, and so forth and so on. :)

God has been so gracious to us, and despite my lack of having it all together, life is very good. I plan to be back in full swing from my little blogging hiatus next week, but did want to pop in a say "hello." I am excited to introduce some new features to the blog and get back into the swing of things again.

 "See" y'all next week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Love your babies every chance you get, and help another mama get to love hers longer

Both times I found out I was pregnant, my heart was immediately filled with love for my sweet babes, and many vast hopes and dreams for how their lives will play out. If I had everything my way, I would live to a ripe old age and bounce my children's grandchildren (and perhaps THEIR children!) on my knees. And of course in my 'perfect' plan, my children will outlive me by many years. I think that's what every mama hopes for her babies.

I go about life assuming I will have my children to love on all my days.  Tragically, that's not always what happens. Kim over at Life in a Shoe posted today about a precious girl named Anaya with a terminal illness. Reading her mama's blog gave me cause for serious reflection. I never wonder, "Is today our last day together," or, "After next week, will I just be left with memories?"

If I truly acknowledged that in His sovereignty, God gives and takes away, perhaps I would take the time to hug my little ones a little tighter, gaze into their eyes a little longer, and savor their precious laughter and smiles a little more. Perhaps I'd say "yes" more often and take more time to play. I'm sure no matter how long the Lord gives me to enjoy my children, when it's all said and done it still won't seem like it's been long enough

Doctors told Anaya's parents she likely wouldn't make it past 13 months and she's now 18-months-old. She has outlived the doctor's expectations, in part, thanks to breast milk donated by nursing moms (and of course, milk from her own mama). At present, they can only accept milk from Canada due to really high shipping costs, but they are looking for moms to donate more milk for her. If you're in Canada and you have some breastmilk life-giving, liquid gold to spare, won't you consider sending it to Anaya? If it was your baby, wouldn't you hope someone would help give you the chance to love her a little longer? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Plan, April 11-17

It's amazing how fast the weeks fly by, isn't it? Every Monday when I post our menu plan, I'm always surprised it's Monday again. ha! This Monday has been quite pleasant thus far. I stayed off the computer all morning--it's amazing how much more productive I am when I do that! The house is picked up, the beds are made, the laundry is waiting to be folded (hmm...), and the crockpot is making some white chili for our supper. Katie's napping right now and my little guy is sitting with me on the sofa, belly full of mama's milk. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love being able to stay home with my babes?)

We're having frugal, eat-from-the-pantry and freezer week at our house. I did stop yesterday and pick up produce, milk, butter, eggs and beans (because you can hardly have a frugal week of meals without dry beans!), but I'm mostly using up ingredients we have on hand.

Here's what's on the plan for this week:

Breakfasts: banana baked oatmeal (I just used three ripe, mashed bananas instead of apples) with scrambled eggs, toast with fried eggs, smoothies

Lunch: leftovers, peanut butter toast, smoothies, snacks (fruits, veggies with dip, etc), beans with cabbage and cornbread

White chili
Potato soup, homemade bread
Chicken Parmesan, steamed broccoli, pasta with red sauce
Shredded beef tacos
dinner with my in-laws

What are y'all fixing this week?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Yoplait Smoothies {Review & Giveaway!)

As I mentioned in our weekly meal plan this week, we eat a lot of smoothies--in fact, I usually blend one up almost every day, either with breakfast, or for lunch or a snack. I use yogurt and fruit (usually frozen berries and bananas) and find that with plenty of fruit we don't even need sweetener added. They're so healthy and delicious!

Recently Yoplait provided me with a sample of their frozen smoothies to try, through MyBlogSpark. I was excited when the package arrived in the mail and we decided to sample the Strawberry Mango Pineapple version for breakfast one morning.

To be completely honest, I disappointed with the product.To me, it seemed way too sweet (probably since I don't usually add sweetener to ours!) and not fruity enough. Upon examining the ingredients, I found it had sugar in it, as well as sucralose (think: Splenda)--something we definitely try to avoid. And, it wasn't really any easier to throw together than a homemade fruit and yogurt smoothie.

That said, maybe one of y'all would enjoy it more than we did, so Yoplait, through MyBlogSpark, has offered to give away a frozen smoothie gift pack to one of y'all. The gift pack includes a coupon for a free yoplait frozen smoothie, a cute backpack, and a really neat nutrition journal.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post. Easy enough! For bonus entries:
-Post your favorite smoothie recipe in the comments (or link to it on your blog)
-Subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed
-Follow me (@mrsmurch) on Twitter.

This giveaway will be open until next Tuesday evening, April 12.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Benjamin: 3 Months

My little man turned 3 months old Monday of last week. I can hardly believe it! (I think I say that every time I tell someone how old he is. Ha!) Last time I weighed him (2 1/2 weeks ago) he was 15lbs., 1.8oz. with his onesie and diaper on! He is a chunk--definitely no worries about whether he's getting enough milk!

Benjamin with my Grandma, his Great-Grandma Katie
 He takes three naps most days, and goes down for the night at around 7 (usually). I feed him around 10 (or whenever I'm going to bed), and he always wakes up at least once before we get up in the morning, but it's usually twice. He's just passed the 15lb. weight limit of his bassinet, and I'm having mixed emotions about moving him out of our room so soon! But, I'm hoping it will encourage him to sleep a little longer at night. Five hours is just not quite enough for me to feel really rested. He does go to sleep most of the time with little to no fussing, which is definitely something to be thankful for!

Benjamin really is just about the sweetest, happiest baby I've ever seen. He loves being talked to (and tries so hard to talk back!) and smiles at just about anyone who pays attention to him. He's a very content, laid back little fellow and really hardly ever cries. He does let me know if he's wet/messy, tired, or hungry--and sometimes he complains a little bit if he gets bored. He's a mama's boy through and through, but he definitely loves his daddy and big sister, too!

My men <3
 This life as a wife and mama--it's my dream come true. What amazing grace the Lord has bestowed upon me! I'm daily growing more thankful for my sweet babes. They really do bring so much joy into my life--I really can't imagine what things would be like without them!

Oh, how I love them!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan, April 4-10

We had a splendid time with my mama last week. She flew back Thursday morning (and almost missed the plane--oops!) and we already miss her a lot! She is so fun to be around, and so helpful when she's here. What a blessing to have a godly mom who's also one of my very best friends.

Here's what we're planning to eat this week. What about y'all?

baked oatmeal, scrambled eggs
smoothies, toast
scrambled eggs, bacon, toast
cold cereal with bananas

smoothies (yes--we eat a lot of smoothies! I just make them with plain yogurt and lots of fruit. Yum!)
rice & beans

Nitrate free beef hot dogs, sweet potato fries, veggies with ranch dip 
Chili (from the freezer!)
Italian Roast Beef over noodles, steamed broccoli
Shredded beef tacos with salsa, lettuce, cheese, etc
Birthday dinner with the in-laws for my father-in-law's birthday
Pizza, salad
Sunday dinner with Ben's family at the farm

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Medela Tender Care Hydrogel Pads and Lanolin (Review & Giveaway)

As you probably know if you've been around this blog for a while, I am very much a breastfeeding advocate. I nursed Katie until she was 16 months (when she self-weaned), and Benjamin hasn't had a drop of anything in his little belly besides his mama's milk. As I've said before, I do understand there are some {rare} circumstances that prevent mothers from nursing their babies, but the vast majority of women can and should nurse their babies as long as possible, for at least a year. The health benefits of breast milk are amazing, and most formula is really junk food (nonfat milk powder, rancid, GMO soybean oil, and corn syrup solids? No thanks.). But, I digress.

I've also mentioned before how much I *love* Medela products. As a first time mama when Katie was born, many of their products were so helpful when we got off to a slightly difficult start with breast feeding--and many of their products (like nursing bras and camisoles, and my pump of course) I continued to use until she weaned. When Medela offered to send me some products before I had Benjamin to review after he was born, I was thrilled! A couple weeks before his birth, my package arrived in the mail with some Tender Care Lanolin and Tender Care Hydrogel Pads.

Thankfully, we didn't have a rough start to breast feeding this time around--I was slightly sore for about a week--and during that time, the Lanolin was absolutely wonderful. It definitely soothes sore nipples, and it's safe for baby so there's no need to wipe it off before nursing (which is so nice when a newborn is nursing around the clock!).

In the days immediately following Benjamin's birth, I never felt a need to use the Hydrogel Pads because I really just wasn't very sore. However, from the time he was about 6 weeks old until just a couple weeks ago, I struggled with plugged ducts and my nipple was really, really, really sore for several days (the kind of sore where you hesitate to latch Baby on and then wince for the first few minutes of nursing--yeeouch!). During that time, the hydrogel pads were heavenly. They have a moist, cooling effect that quickly eases the pain like nothing else. You do need to wipe off your breast before nursing again, but it is so worth it.

You can buy Medela products on their website (also on their website there are a lot of great resources for breastfeeding mothers, including an "Ask the LC section" which have used and received a quick response!), as well as at many retailers around the country. They're really a great company--they make high quality products that help nursing mamas as well as products that allow babies in difficult circumstances (preemies in a NICU,  babies whose mommies work and aren't around to nurse them during the day) to still have their mommy's milk to nourish them. For those of you expecting babies, I highly recommend having some Lanolin and Hydrogel pads in your breastfeeding supply stash (and if you can--grab a couple of their nursing bras. They are so comfy.)

I'm really excited because Medela has also offered to give one of you some of their great Lanolin and Hydrogel Pads! I know several of you are expecting babies--and if you're not, you probably know someone who is and this would make a great gift. 

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post about breastfeeding. :)

For additional entries:
::Subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed
::Follow @mrsmurch AND @medela_us on twitter, and tweet about this giveaway with a link to the post.
::"Like" Medela on facebook.
::Blog about this giveaway with a link to this post and leave a link to your post in your comment.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry! The giveaway will close Tuesday evening, April 5. Please note: This giveaway is only open to readers with a US mailing address.

Disclosure: Medela sent me free products to review. All opinions are mine and I was not compensated in any other way.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Free Annie's Gardening giftpack

If you took advantage of the $0.49 Annie's Homegrown Mac & Cheese at Kroger a couple weeks ago, head over here. If you enter two of your UPC codes from the bottom of the boxes, Annie's will send you a free gardening gift pack.

The website says to allow 8-10 weeks for delivery. I requested small gloves for Katie--I think it will be fun to have her 'help' me in our garden this Spring/Summer (and hopefully we'll get more fruit for our labors than we did last year, with ONE green bean).

12 Time-Wasting Thieves

 A friend recently forwarded me this little list of 12 time-wasters, written by puritan Richard Baxter. I found it thought provoking and wanted to share it with y'all. Time is one of our most precious commodities. We ought to use every moment God gives us for His glory (totally preaching to myself here!).

"Redeeming the time." Colossians 4:5

"That you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way." Colossians 1:10

Thief 1. One of the greatest time-wasting sins, consists of idleness or sloth.

Thief 2. The next thief or time-waster, is excess of sleep.

Thief 3. Another time-waster, is an inordinate adorning of the body.

Thief 4. Another time-wasting thief, is unnecessary pomp and extravagance in household furniture and domestic entertainments.

Thief 5. Another time-wasting sin, is needless feastings, gluttony, and drinking.

Thief 6. Another time-waster, is idle talk.

Thief 7. Another thief which would steal your time, is vain and sinful company.

Thief 8. Another notorious time-wasting thief, is needless, inordinate sports and games--which are masked with the deceitful title of recreations.

Thief 9. Another time-wasting thief, is excess of worldly cares and business.

Thief 10. Another time-waster, is vain, ungoverned and sinful thoughts.

Thief 11. Another dangerous time-wasting sin, is the reading of worthless books, plays, romances, and novels. And also unprofitable studies, undertaken but for pride and vain-glory, or the pleasing of a carnal or curious mind.

Thief 12. But the master-thief that robs men of their time, is an unsanctified, ungodly heart; for this loses time, whatever men are doing--because they never intend to do anything for the glory of God.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do--do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31
Do you struggle with any of these time thieves? If so, what steps can you take to use your time more wisely?