Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What we're eating this week, a question, and a deal

It has been a busy few days around our house! We spent most of the weekend with family, which was really fun, but I'm looking forward to setting back into some normalcy (including cleaning and more naps for little people!) tomorrow after running errands for a good chunk of the day today.

Here's what we have on our menu this week:
Breakfasts: smoothies, eggs with toast, pancakes

Lunches: smoothies, leftovers, sandwiches, hot dogs (free of nitrates/nitrites, fillers, by-products, and artificial colors)

Monday~BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, baked beans with family
Tuesday~"Not-Sagna" Pasta Toss, salad
Wednesday~Chicken Divan
Thursday~ Shredded beef tostadas
Friday~snacks at the home school ball
Saturday~homemade pizza, sauteed green beans
Sunday~Dinner at the farm

And now for the question. I need some cool summer dinner ideas (preferably meals that don't heat up the kitchen) other than meal salads, which Ben does not care for. Any suggestions from y'all would be appreciated!

The other thing I wanted to mention is that there's a great deal on organic coconut oil on Amazon right now (especially if you have giftcards from Swagbucks!). Besides butter, coconut oil is my favorite oil for cooking with, and when you melt it it can easily replace yucky vegetable oil in recipes. When you choose the Subcribe & Save option, you can get two 15oz. jars for just $12 and free shipping. This is a really good deal on a high quality fat for your family; if you can swing it in your grocery budget, I'd recommend stocking up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Resources to help with time management


Time is truly a most valuable commodity, a precious gift from God to be properly stewarded. As I strive to use my time wisely and work towards getting my little family into a better routine (er, really, a routine, period.), I have found several resources to be very helpful and encouraging. Most of them are written by moms who have been there, done that and have much godly wisdom to share.

::Time Management 101~FREE eBook, written by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom. I have read this through a few times and gleaned many helpful tips, as well as much encouragement. As a mom of three young children, Crystal is a bit farther down the road than I am and I really enjoyed reading this.

::Tell Your Time~Another ebook about time management, this one is written by Amy Lynn Andrews. I bought it shortly after it was released. She shares many excellent ideas and encourages you to budget your time like you do your money. The book is very insightful, and has several handy printable pages with charts to help you organize your time.

::Shopping for Time~A great book about redeeming the time (see Eph. 5:16). I bought this book before we were married and gleaned a lot from it. I have referenced it periodically over the past few years and I'm hoping to read through it again shortly.

::Motivated Moms planner~ Not a "time management" resource per se, but when I strive to get everything done on the list every day, my days seem to go much more smoothly.

What things have you found to help you manage your time better? Any great resources I'm missing?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase these through my links, I may receive a small compensation. Thank you for supporting this site! :)

This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan, May 23-29

May is just flying by (I know, I know--I say that at the end of every month)! After almost 5 months of daily "winging it" with our schedule (pretty much since Benjamin was born), I'm going to try to make more of an effort to get us back into a somewhat consistent routine. I think it would be great for all of us! But, I'll tell y'all about all that some other time. :) Here's what we're planning to eat this week.

Baked Oatmeal, scrambled eggs (x4)
Coconut Flour muffins, smoothies
Biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, fried apples (for Ben's birthday breakfast--he'll be 26 Friday!)
Crustless mini-quiches (I made a bunch of these Saturday and froze them--great for quick, healthy Sunday morning breakfast!), toast

Rice and bean burritos (from the freezer)
Cold cereal with fruit, milk (we don't really like to eat cereal for breakfast--ha! But, we do like it for lunch occasionally)
Sandwiches (peanut butter and banana, apple, or jelly; grilled cheese)

Sandwiches/cereal/snacks (I was gone most of today and didn't feel like cooking! Just keeping it real, folks!)
Shredded beef tostadas, fruit
Salmon patties, fries, salad
Lasagna Casserole, salad
Birthday dinner at the farm for Ben & Hannah (his sister's birthday is the day before his)
Pizza, salad
Sunday dinner at the farm

For more menu plans, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A wedding hymn

Since we celebrated our third anniversary earlier this month, I (of course!) thought back over the details of our wedding and enjoyed reminiscing a bit. It really was the perfect ceremony for us. The following hymn is one I fell in love with from the wedding section of our hymnal. A dear friend sang it during our ceremony.

O Father, all creating,
Whose wisdom, love, and power
First bound two lives together
In Eden’s primal hour,
Today to these Thy children
Thine earliest gifts renew,
A home by Thee made happy,
A love by Thee kept true.

O Savior, Guest most bounteous
Of old in Galilee,
Vouchsafe today Thy presence
With these who call on Thee;
Their store of earthly gladness
Transform to heavenly wine,
And teach them, in the tasting,
To know the gift is Thine.

O Spirit of the Father,
Breathe on them from above,
So mighty in Thy pureness,
So tender in Thy love;
That, guarded by Thy presence,
From sin and strife kept free,
Their lives may own Thy guidance,
Their hearts be ruled by Thee.

Except Thou build it, Father,
The house is built in vain;
Except Thou, Savior, bless it,
The joy will turn to pain;
But naught can break the union
Of hearts in Thee made one;
And love Thy Spirit hallows
Is endless love begun.

I think the words of this hymn, written by John Ellerton in 1876, are so rich and God-honoring. Christian marriage is such a beautiful gift from a gracious and merciful God. And truly, as we work to build our home, if the Lord is not the builder, our labors really are in vain. Without the blessing of God on our marriage and our family, what good will any of it accomplish? Today and every day, I am thankful for my godly husband and the family the Lord is allowing us to build together. How I do look forward to growing old together and seeing the fruit of our labors!

What are you thankful for this Lord's Day?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Katie-isms: She can really talk.

Miss Katie, You are really beginning to talk up a storm. Some days, I wish I could write down every single thing you say. But I can't, so here's a little sampling of your recent vocal antics. You've become a bit sassy, something Mommy and Daddy are going to need to train out of you. I hope one day your strong personality can be harnessed and used for the glory of God.

Love you (& can't imagine which relative you inherited your chattiness from ;)!
Your Mommy

"Hey! Don't talk to me 'yike dat.'" {Said in response to my telling her to get off of the dishwasher door.}

"No, Mommy. I da boss." {I was explaining to her that she couldn't boss me around because I'm her boss.}

"Hey! I have an idea." {while we were building a block tower}

"Okay, okay. I dooey ("do it"). Gosh!" {when I told her to pick up a mess she made}

"I 'yooove' Daddy." {while talking about Daddy while he was away at work}

"Benjamin, say 'Dah-doo' (thank you). Say 'Dah-doo, Mommmy!'" {when I gave Benjamin a toy}

"Benjamin, say 'bye-bye, Daddy!'" {When Daddy left for work}

"Yah-yah (Elijah), open door pease! Yah-yah! Hey, where Yah-yah 'doe' (go)? Oh, gosh." {Waiting for Uncle Elijah to open a door for her}

"Mommy, read 'a-nuvvy' one, pease?" {Asking me to read another book}

"Mommy, sing 'Dod made me' pease!" {Catechism CDs are her favorite! :) }

What are your toddlers up to these days? How have y'all dealt with sassiness from 2 year olds?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Weekend Reading, May 14

Here are some of my favorite reads from around the blogosphere this week. Did y'all find anything especially worth sharing that I missed?

::The Joys of Home Birthing. I loved Lindsay's article about home birth. Benjamin's birth at our home in December was such a rich and beautiful experience for our family, and Lindsay's thoughts on the issue are very much in line with my own. If your pregnancy is not high risk, I cannot more highly recommend that you consider home birth.

::Advice for Young (& Old) Wives. We've been married 3 years, so FishMama and her husband have 14 years on us. I love her advice for wives in this post.

::5 Reasons Why Home Ownership Might Not be for You. We recently looked into buying a home and decided against it for now. Some of our reasons for this decision are things she brings up in this article.

::Free Homeschool Tips Ebook. I really enjoy Connie's blog, and as a seasoned homeschool mother of 8 (!), I'm really looking forward to combing through her newly-released ebook.

Friday, May 13, 2011

All I ever wanted...

My people--oh, how I love them!
Since I was 15 years old, all I wanted in life was to be Ben Murch's wife, have babies (hopefully lots!), and raise them up for the glory of God. When I'm tempted to complain about long days and sleepless nights, endless messes, and fussy babes, I often step back and remind myself that, by the grace of God, this life I have is all I ever wanted. I spent years dreaming of and longing for the life I have right now.

While it may not be glamorous or applauded by the world, I'm living my dream. And I am a blessed woman indeed.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nothing will quench its flame...

 Set me as a seal on your heart
Set me as a seal on your soul
As strong as death is love
Unyielding as the grave
Nothing will quench its flame
Nothing will quench its flame

Set me as a seal on your heart

Set me as a seal on your soul
As strong as death is love
Unyielding as the grave
Nothing will quench its flame
Nothing will quench its flame

Kiss me, my love

That your name be on my lips
You intoxicate my being
With the fragrance of your presence

How beautiful you are, my darling

Show me your face, let me hear your voice
Sweet as the dew in the early morn'
Like a lily among the thorns

Set me as a seal on your heart

Set me as a seal on your soul
As strong as death is love
Unyielding as the grave
Nothing will quench its flame
Nothing will quench its flame

I looked for you, the one my heart loves

I looked for you but did not find you
Searched through the night
Until I rested in your sight
Now I will never let you go

'Cause you have stolen my heart

My sister, my bride
You've stolen my heart
With one glance of your eyes
Your lips so sweet, adorned with honey
My hands, they drip with myrrh

Set me as a seal on your heart

Set me as a seal on your soul
As strong as death is love
Unyielding as the grave
Nothing will quench its flame
Nothing will quench its flame

Today, it's been three years since we said, "I do." I couldn't be more thankful for my Beloved. Happy anniversary, Ben!

This song by Matt Maher was the song we chose for our first dance. The photo was taken by our fabulous wedding photographer, Rachel Whited.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Menu Plan, May 9-15

Here's what we're eating this week. What are y'all fixing?

Baked oatmeal, scrambled eggs (x4)
Banana pancakes, scrambled eggs (x2)
cold cereal/milk

Sandwiches (PB and Banana, turkey and cheese)
Smoothies, peanut butter toast

Monday~ dinner with my in-laws
Tuesday~third anniversary date night! (It will be Benjamin's first time away from Mama--hoping it goes well!)
Wednesday~ going-away party at a friend's house
Thursday~ Chicken Divan
Friday~ salmon patties, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies
Saturday~homemade pizza, salad
Sunday~dinner with my in-laws at their farm

For more menu plans, check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why I'm a mama...

I am blessed beyond measure to have a godly heritage. My mother is one of my dearest friends, and I can't express enough how thankful I am to have her in my life. Now that I'm a mom myself (this is my third Mother's Day as a mama--I can't believe it!), I can so much more fully appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me.This whole motherhood thing is so very blessed, but it's not for the faint of heart! As a mom, I am daily faced with a choice to be selfish or to deny myself for the temporal and, more importantly, the eternal well-being of my children.

Some days it's hard, but as I'm often reminded, there's a very bright light at the end of the tunnel:
What could bring more joy to an aging woman than to have her children rise up and called her blessed by their walking in the faith? What could bring more joy to a glorified woman than seeing around the heavenly throne a multi-generational crowd of her maternal influence? Look, Mom, you've fetched a thousand tongues to sing His praise!  
~Womanly Dominion
Reading these words literally brought tears to my eyes (more than once!). The daily grind of changing diapers, wiping noses, reading books, disciplining (again), cooking meals, cleaning, playing games, going over catechism questions, singing songs...I really do love it, and it's all is part of the work of growing children into adults, and Lord willing, they'll grow into adults who live for the advancement of Christ's Kingdom. The job mothers do changes the world! And as this quote so aptly points out, the influence of a mother has the ability to far outlast her, influencing many generations to come.

So, y'all, that's why I'm a mama; it's why I've devoted my life to the rearing of children. And there will be no greater reward than, by God's grace, looking around the throne of heaven one day and seeing my children and their children after them worshiping the risen Lord.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekend Reading, May 7

My house is in need of a little a ton of TLC and we're taking the Murchlings for a picnic in the park this afternoon before the children from the home school co-op at our church have their Spring concert, so it's a busy (and fun!) day ahead. Since I'm strapped for time and there are so many great bloggers who wrote some excellent stuff this week, I'm going to leave you with some links to enjoy!

::For the Mother who fears Failure ~ Such a well-written and encouraging article that really hit the spot for this mama's heart.

::If Not Now, When? ~  An installment in Amy's "Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?" series about knowing when to start a family. We became convinced before our wedding that, barring any major health issues for me, we'd just have as many little ones as the Lord would give us. Katie was 10 weeks old on our first anniversary, I was 10 weeks pregnant with Benjamin on our second anniversary, and we wouldn't change a thing! I have enjoyed reading the comments on this post.

::Thoughts on Natural & Modern Medicine ~ A great post by Myra that really resonates with me. In general, we try to avoid unnatural interventions, but I sure am thankful they're there when they're actually necessary!

::Zesty Mini Meatloaves ~ This recipe looks really yummy, and so simple!

What good reads have y'all found this week?

Have a happy Saturday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Purex Complete with Zout: Review and Giveaway!

I recently became a member of Purex Insiders just in time to try out their new detergent, Purex Complete with Zout. Zout is an enzyme-based stain remover (similar to Shout gel).

I was pretty excited when the bottle came in the mail, and have been really pleased with the product. I pour the amount I'm going to use for the load in the lid and use it to pre-treat some of the more messy stains (we have plenty of those with an active two-year old around!), and then pour the rest in the washer.

This has successfully removed several pretty bad stains, including chocolate from a white shirt and a big splotch of red ink from one of my favorite skirts. I'd say those are pretty good results! Purex Complete with Zout comes in a scented version as well as a free and clear, which is our preference, and it also works in regular washing machines and HE machines as well.

Purex has generously sent me two FREE product coupons to give away to two of y'all! To enter, just leave a comment on this post. For additional entries, you can share this giveaway on twitter or your blog. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway will be open until Wednesday of next week (May 11).

This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

I have been saying for months that I wanted to start making my own yogurt. As I've mentioned int he past, we eat fruit and yogurt smoothies just about every day. Yogurt is not cheap (unless I can find it reduced for quick sale or combine sales and coupons), and we prefer to use whole milk yogurt for the health benefits of good ol' animal fat for Katie and us grown-ups, too. At our grocery store, the only whole milk yogurt they carry is Stoneyfield Farms Organic. So delicious, but I've been spending $10+ on yogurt every week. Yikes!

Making my own, I can buy local (though not raw like I'd prefer) hormone and antibiotic free, partly pasture-raised, non-homogenized whole milk at $2.99 for half a gallon and make two quarts of yogurt for less than what I pay for one quart of organic whole milk yogurt. And, it's really hardly any work at all (which is really good for this busy mama). To prove how easy it is, I wanted to show y'all how I've been doing it. I initially tried a crock pot method and it was a flop, so I tried the  method in Nourishing Traditions and I've made it several times with great success. The pull on the spoon when I stir the finished product makes my heart flutter. ha!

First, preheat the oven to "warm". Then, gently heat a quart of milk to 180*. Remove it from heat and pour into a shallow container (glass, stainless steel, ceramic). Cool to 110*. Whisk in half a cup of good quality, live active culture plain yogurt. Cover and place in the oven and turn it off. Leave it alone for 8 hours.

Voila! It's thinner than store bought yogurt, but it does firm up some once it cools in the fridge.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kroger deals for this week

Hey y'all. I went to Kroger yesterday and spent $50 and saved $59. That's always fun! I didn't get any pictures because when we got home both kids were grouchy and Benjamin needed nursing, so I just rushed around.

They are running one of the "Mega Events" where, if you buy 10 participating items, you get an extra $5 off. Combining that sale with coupons, there were a couple of particularly great deals I wanted to tell you about.

::Free plus overage pasta (again)! Ronzoni Healthy Harvest and Smart Taste pastas are $0.49 after the sale. I was able to re-print the $1/2 Ronzoni pasta coupons from my computer and got 8 more boxes of pasta for free. That makes 24 free boxes of pasta in the past couple months!

::You can get Mom's Best Naturals cereal for $0.24 when you combine the sale with this $0.75/1 coupon. I have printed this coupon twice in the past, but was able to print two more times.

We usually eat pasta about once a week and Ben likes to have cereal on hand all the time for early morning and late night snacking (that man has a crazy metabolism!), so these were great opportunities to stock up. The Smart Taste pasta is white, and I normally don't do any white pasta ever, but since they paid me $0.01 to take it out of the store, I figure a couple times a month it probably won't kill us. ;)

Did you get any great deals at the store this week?

Benjamin, 4 Months

Another month has come and gone and my little man is already four months old! One third of a year already--at least in my experience, time goes by so much faster after having children. I can recall days prior to motherhood that seemed to just drag on, and I even have {vague} memories of saying, "I'm SO bored." Never again. ha!

Anyway, Benjamin is growing really fast, weighing in at a whopping 19 pounds a couple weeks ago when I weighed him. How crazy is that? He's going to outgrow his infant carrier soon at the rate he's going! Katie didn't switch to her convertible car seat until after her first birthday. Don't ask what I'm feeding him--he's eating the same good mama's milk his sister got! :)

For some other four month details:

::He nurses every 3 to 4 hours during the day and has finally started sleeping 5-6 hours consistently at night. I put him down around 8, nurse him at 10:30 or so (whenever I'm ready to go to bed) and he wakes up between 5 and 6 to eat, and then sleeps another couple hours.

::He slept in a SwaddleMe until Saturday, when I found him wailing in his bed because he had rolled over in it, had his face planted in the mattress and couldn't move because his arms were in the swaddle.

::Pretty much any time I lay him down on his back on his play mat, he rolls to his tummy. Usually he's not very happy to be on his tummy once he gets there, but he hasn't figured out how to roll back over yet.

::Benjamin is wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes, though he is beginning to outgrow some of those and is wearing some 6-9 month clothes already. We're still using almost exclusively cloth diapers, but when he does wear a disposable, he's in size 2.

Benjamin is such a delightful little guy. He's usually all smiles and adds so much joy to our family. He loves his daddy and his big sister, but for now, he's definitely more of a mama's boy and he loves to snuggle and be talked to. If he gets over-tired or really hungry he cries, but other than that he's almost always content.

And because she's so precious, here's a picture of my sweet Katie girl from Easter Sunday.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Menu Plan, May 2-8

I've implemented a few changes in our diet over the past couple weeks that I'm really excited about. The first is homemade yogurt, which I'll share more about later this week! I've also made it a goal to serve fish at least once per week. I suspect this will usually occur in the form of canned (wild, Alaskan) salmon made into patties and fried, though any other recommendations for serving canned salmon would be appreciated! I never come across great deals on wild-caught fish around here, but if I do, I will experiment some. I have never been much of a fish person, but I want my family to have all the benefits fish offers. Something else I've been trying to do is soak our grains (I've only done oats so far, but I'm hoping to eventually branch out). Do any of y'all soak your family's grains?

Anyway, here's what we're planning to eat this week. What are y'all fixing?

Apple baked oatmeal (I plan to soak the oats in a half yogurt, half water mixture overnight) bacon (nitrate free), and eggs (x3)
Toast with cream cheese, fried eggs (x2)
Fluffy banana oat pancakes, scrambed eggs (x2)

Rice and bean burritos (x3)
Smoothies with peanut butter toast (x2)
Leftovers/snacks (x2)

Monday~ Italian cream cheese chicken casserole, salad
Tuesday~ leftovers
Wednesday~ Chili
Thursday~ leftovers
Friday~ Salmon patties, seasoned potato wedges, green beans
Saturday~ Homemade pizza (with nitrate/nitrite/anti-biotic free pepperoni), salad
Sunday~ at the farm with my in-laws

For more menu plans, head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My sin, not in part, but the whole

Cross over Mt. HelixOne morning last week I was in a bad mood. When I began my morning chores, I turned on some hymns, knowing their attitude-adjusting effects. As I listened to It Is Well With My Soul, I got teary-eyed as goosebumps spread up my arms, particularly during the third stanza. My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 

It really is a glorious thought. The Mighty King of kings has born the entirety of my sin on the cross, and I no longer bear the overwhelming, soul-damning weight of its burden. Because of His atoning grace, it truly is well with my soul no matter what trials this life will bring.

 When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.