Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My home management system, pt. 6: Laundry (& a giveaway from Tropical Traditions!)

Laundry room



 If you haven't been with us for the rest of this series, you can find the rest of it under the Home Management label.

 I know many homemakers struggle with keeping on top of their laundry so as part of this little series, I wanted to share what works for me.

::Keep our wardrobes simple. Ben and I do not have a ton of clothes. I have 5-6 shirts that I wear most days, along with t-shirts for sleeping in, and undershirts. I wear a denim skirt almost every day, though I do have other skirts I mix things up with from time to time (and nicer ones for Sundays). The children have more clothes because they're messier, and because they have generous grandparents. But, obviously, fewer clothes equals less to wash, fold, and put away.

::Do one load from start to finish every day. Most weekdays, I do one load of laundry from start to finish (wash, dry, fold, put away). I wash the sheets once every week (Fridays), and other items as they get dirty during the week. I don't sort clothes/towels by color unless it's something brand new and very bright or dark. I wash everything together in super loads on warm, and usually do one cold load a week for more delicate items. Because of Ben's allergies/asthma, I do not hang clothes out to dry. I wash diapers every other day. Sometimes when I wash diapers, I don't do a load of clothes that day but other times I do. It depends on our schedule and the situation in the hamper. One benefit to washing clothes daily is that if I miss a day, it's not generally too hard to get caught back up (this could be in part because I only have two children!).

To tell you the truth, that's basically it. Most of the time I'm pretty much caught up on laundry, though there are certainly days (and even weeks) when things get out of hand and Ben is scrounging around for socks.


The Giveaway!
 As an added treat, Tropical Traditions has generously offered to give away a 5lb. container of their fabulous powdered laundry detergent to one of y'all!

I am always looking for ways to take toxins out of our home, and using this detergent is one great way to do it. It is free from the dyes, perfumes, fillers and phosphates so often contained in commercially made laundry detergents. The folks at Tropical Traditions sent me a package of this detergent to review, and I have been so happy with the results. Our clothes come out wonderfully clean, and I love knowing they've been washed without toxic chemicals. 


To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post with your favorite tip for staying on top of the laundry pile at your house.

For bonus entries (please leave a separate comment for each one!):

::Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions newsletter.
::"Like" Tropical Traditions on facebook.
::"Like" Covenant Homemaking on facebook.
::Subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed via feed reader or email.
::Follow @mrsmurch and @troptraditions on twitter and tweet about the giveaway, tagging both of us and linking back to this post.
::Share a link to this post on facebook.
::Post about the giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post.

That makes for eight possible entries! This giveaway will be open through Saturday evening, when I'll select a winner via random.org.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Benjamin, 8 Months


My little man turned 8 months old on Sunday! Where, oh where, does the time go? Benjamin brings so much joy into our lives. Here's some of what he's been up to lately:

::Sleeping 9-10 hours at night (YES!) and taking 1-2 naps per day. He needs two, but I think he's working on a couple teeth so he's been a little fussier than usual. A corner of his very first tooth just broke through today!

::He wears 6-9 month clothes and size 3 diapers if we use a disposable (which is, gratefully, not very often!). I think he'll be bumping up a clothing size pretty soon.


::After a bout with pretty severe constipation, the little fellow is back to exclusive breastfeeding. I occasionally let him suck on a piece of fruit in his Fresh Food Feederstyle= if he gets offended while we're eating, but most days he's just having breast milk. I'm hoping to give him another 2-3 weeks, at least, before we start back to regular solids. He seems to be thriving pretty well without solids, so I'm not in any big hurry.

::Crawling! Benjamin is now crawling all over the place. He crawls around trying to find me and then reaches his hands up for me to hold him, which is just absolutely precious. With this stage has also come an insatiable desire to eat every small particle off of the floor (and since we have a 2 year old, those are plentiful!). I may or may not have found a couple stickers in his diaper this week. Ahem.

::He is starting to communicate a little more. He says "ba-ba" and "da-da." I'm pretty sure he recognizes Ben as dada, too. And, he definitely knows his own name.

I sure do love being a mama! What are your littlest ones up to these days?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Menu Plan, August 29-September 4




It's hard to believe autumn is already creeping up on us! I think this year has been one of the shortest years of my life (could that be because I've had TWO babies all year this year?). I am really looking forward to the cooler weather that will hopefully be showing its pretty face in the coming weeks. Since our children aren't school-aged yet, I'm looking forward to playing at park in the cooler weather while all the big kids are at school. :)

Anyway, here is what I'm planning to cook up this week. I have a few new recipes on the list that seem simple and delicious--and not overly adventurous. How often do y'all try new recipes?

Breakfasts:
::Cornmeal and rye pancakes (new recipe, will be soaking) with pastured butter and real maple syrup (x2)
::Scrambled eggs, toast, yogurt (x2)
::Egg & Cheese breakfast sandwiches (new recipe--will be freezing some)
 ::Soaked baked oatmeal (x2) (To soak: substitute half water and half plain yogurt for the milk. Combine yogurt/water mixture, oats, and coconut oil or butter for 12-24hrs. Mix in remaining ingredients and bake as usual)

Lunches:
::Smoothies (peanut butter or fruit and yogurt)
::Leftovers
::Snacks

Dinners:
::Homemade taco pizza (new recipe)
::Chihuahua Chili (new recipe), cornbread
::Salmon patties, salad, seasoned baked potato wedges
::Biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs

What are y'all fixing this week? For menu planning inspiration, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My home management system, pt. 5: Rising Early

Go here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, if you've not read them!

Rising early does not come naturally to me. However, as a teenager I realized that I was much more productive early in the morning than I am late at night and made a habit of rising early.

These days, I love being able to do my devotions, work out, and/or get in a lecture or some college reading done before the craziness of the day ensues. Because, let's face it--after chasing babies all day, all I want to do is veg once they're down for the night. I just end my vegging earlier and make myself go to sleep so I can have that time in the morning.


The last month or so, my little man finally decided to start sleeping nine or ten hours straight instead of waking me up every three or four hours to nurse. I am so so thankful for this change and since I've been getting more sleep I have been able to start rising early again. It makes such a big difference in my days, and I definitely can't accomplish everything I like to without those extra two or three hours in the morning. 

Have you ever tried to make a habit of rising early? I have found making use of the early morning hours to be very rewarding. I would highly encourage each of you to give it a try! A tip: before you give up, set your alarm for about the same time for at least full week and you'll probably find it gets much easier after a couple days.


In seasons of life when you're not getting quality sleep (right after you have a baby) or when you need a ton of sleep in early pregnancy, rising too early is probably not wise. These are seasons for minimizing your to-do list and giving yourself much grace! Sleep is so essential for your overall health (and your productivity while you are awake) that you shouldn't ever neglect it unless it's absolutely necessary.

Do you get up early? Lately, I've been shooting for being up and going before 6 each morning. How about y'all?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Menu Plan, August 22-28



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

Breakfasts:
::Soaked baked oatmeal (x3) (To soak: substitute half water and half plain yogurt for the milk. Combine yogurt/water mixture, oats, and coconut oil or butter for 12-24hrs. Mix in remaining ingredients and bake as usual)
::Scrambled eggs, sausage, pan-fried potatoes (x2)
::Soaked oatmeal pancakes with real maple syrup and pastured butter (x2)
::Smoothies or cold cereal (x1)

Lunches:
::leftovers
::smoothies (strawberry, banana yogurt or peanut butter)
::snack lunch

Dinners:
::Layered chicken enchilada casserole, brown rice & black beans
::Hearty bean (and meat) casserole, watermelon, green beans
::BBQ meatballs, mashed potatoes, fruit, green salad
::Biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs

Friday, August 19, 2011

A best friend in the making

Katie and me last summer. <3
Katie has been my little buddy for as long as she could crawl around behind me. These days, we spend all day every day together. We clean, we cook, we read stories, we play with toys, we do laundry, we go on walks, we talk about Daddy, we take care of Benjamin--and I love {almost} every moment.

Yesterday we were sitting on the floor and Katie wanted to brush my hair. So, I took it out of a messy pony-tail and she got the brush. After brushing for a little while, she paused and patted my hair and said, "So pretty, Mama. I brush your hair! It's sooo pretty." That was when my heart almost melted into a puddle on the floor. In any case, I was quickly reminded of my childhood and times spent with my mom. Playing dolls (she would almost always name her Roberta!), practicing multiplication tables in the bath tub, reading books (until Mom inevitably fell asleep. ha!).

As a little girl, I loved my mom and I really enjoyed spending time with her, but I never realized that when I grew up, she would be one of my closest friends. Until last night's hair brushing incident, I had really never looked forward too much to Katie growing up--I've even written more than once about how I think it's happening too fast! But one of these days when my little girl grows up, by God's grace, into a godly young woman (and probably a wife and mama herself), I won't just be losing a baby--I'll be gaining a best friend.  And that, friends, is definitely a finer thing to look forward to.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This week's groceries: Kroger, Walmart, & Auburnlea Farms

We ate from the pantry for the first half of the week this week, but by last night things were looking pretty bare so we headed into town to pick up some groceries, and today I put in an order at my favorite local farm. They raise grass-fed beef, chicken, and turkeys and also sell bulk pantry goods at fabulous prices.

Here's a run-down of our purchases for this week.

I figured a poor quality picture was better than none. Benjamin was flipping out, so I had to HURRY! :)


Kroger:
Dry foods:
Mom's Best Frosted shredded wheat cereal (for Ben)~$2
Dairy:
6 8oz. packages Kerrygold Butter, reduced for quick sale to $2.99 each~$14.95
2 pints organic half and half, reduced for quick sale to $1.35 each~$2.70
8oz. Kroger cheese~$1.99
32oz. container of organic whole milk yogurt~$3.59
1/2 gallon of local, hormone/antiobiotic free, non-homogenized whole milk~$2.99
2 dozen cage free eggs for $1.99 each~$3.98

Produce:
3lbs. organic russet potatoes~$3.49
Seedless watermelon~$4.99
6.72lbs organic bananas~$4.30

Non-food:
Diapers for Katie (she wears a disposable at night)~$6.21
Spiral notebook~$0.15
Notebook paper~$0.75

Walmart:
Breyer's chocolate ice cream (this is a delicious, less bad compromise food)~$2.99 (it's $6.29 at Kroger!)

Farm:
(not pictured above, because it hasn't been delivered yet)
5lbs. ground beef @ $4.50/lb~$22.50
1lb. cocoa powder~$5.50
5lb. organic corn for grinding ($0.80/lb)-$4.00
5lb. rye for grinding ($1.20/lb)~$6
10lb. non-gmo soft white wheat for grinding ($0.55/lb)~$5.50

Our total for the week was just over $100, and I had $55 left from last week, so we're definitely under budget for the month so far. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My home management system, pt. 4: The routine

Go here to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you've missed them.

The routine is the part of my home management system that changes the most often. In this season of mothering a mostly-breastfed baby, his needs frequently change based and that, of course changes my schedule around. That said, I've found that what works best for us right now is to have a flexible routine to help us accomplish everything in a day that needs to get done. Here is what the ideal day at our house looks like (times are approximate!):

5:50~I get up and do my devotions, and then try to do some college work or work out (my plan is to alternate between the two--but, sometimes I end up working on schoolwork two or three days in a row instead of working out...just keepin' it real!). Benjamin often wakes up to nurse around 6:00 or 6:30 and then goes back to sleep.
7:30~I start breakfast and get going on morning chores (make the bed, straighten up our room, and start laundry)
8:00~We all eat breakfast together.
8:30~If Benjamin is still sleeping, I wake him up and nurse him (though he often wakes up around 8) while we do family worship.
9:00~Ben heads off to work and I clean up the kitchen.
9:20~Benjamin goes down for a nap and I do "school" with Katie. Right now, we start off by reading a chapter of the Bible and then we loosely follow Sonlight's Pre-K 3/4 curriculum.
10:00~Katie watches a "moomie" (her word for movie) while I sit with her and do some work. (Did y'all know I work part time from home?)
11:00~I do my weekly chores for the day, nurse Benjamin, and fix something for lunch.
12:00~We eat lunch, usually all together and then I clean up the kitchen and Katie helps me pick up toys.
12:30~Both children go down for a nap and I do some more work.
2:30~Sometimes closer to 3. The children wake up from naps. I nurse Benjamin and give Katie a snack. Then we fold and put away the laundry and finish up any remaining cleaning for the day. I also work on blog stuff at this time, and try to take some time to get down on the floor and play with the kiddos.
4:30~I start working on dinner, depending on how long it will take to prepare. When Ben comes home I try to do a little more work.
6:00~We eat dinner together as a family. Then I clean up the kitchen, give baths, tidy up, etc. Our evenings once Ben comes home are usually pretty relaxed, and we try to just enjoy time together as a family.
7:30~Sometimes this happens closer to 7. I nurse Benjamin and put him down for the night.
8:00~We get Katie ready for bed and tuck her in. If I haven't already, I start soaking whatever grain we're having for breakfast. Then, Ben and I spend some time together.
10:00~I shoot for being asleep by 10 or 10:30. I really need 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep to feel well-rested.

I came up with this routine based on our priorities and what works for us in accomplishing them right now. This is always changing based on our family's needs at any given time. And, most days definitely do not look exactly like this!

What about y'all? Do you have a strict schedule, a flexible routine, or do you just wing it?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fulfilling the great commission as a mother

Image credit: trevinwax.com
 Before Jesus ascended into Heaven to be with the Father, His final command was the Great Commission.

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:18-20)
I believe that every single Christian, no matter what, has a duty to obey this clear commandment to make disciples by preaching the gospel and teaching men and women to obey the commands of God. This should be the foremost goal in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Before I had children I was very active in the evangelistic endeavors of our local church. I went door-to-door with other church members (and we went to a wonderful Reformed Baptist church--we weren't Jehovah's [False] Witnesses or Mormons) and also spent several hours each week at a local abortion clinic reaching out with the call of the gospel to women who were planning to kill their children by abortion. At the time, these were my primary efforts in advancing the Kingdom.

Now that I am married and spend most of my time at home with two young children, ministering in the same way I once did is no longer possible (as a side: I did continue ministering at the abortion clinic until we relocated to Virginia where the closest abortion clinic is about 2 hours away). During this season of life, my children are my disciples. I endeavor by God's grace, as Deuteronomy 6 commands, to teach my children the Scriptures all day, every day--in word and in deed. Whether the Lord gives us only these two babes, or twelve more, the primary disciple-making ministry of my life will be to them.

I want to encourage other moms of littles: by staying home with your children and training them in the Word of God, you are doing your part in obeying the Great Commission. In this season of life, God has not called you to leave your children behind to travel the world on mission trips or expend enormous amounts of effort in ministries outside your home. You only have 18 or so (or, possibly less if the Lord chooses to take you away from your children early or vice-versa) years with your children in your home; you need to make every moment with them count for eternity. Other ministries can wait. For now, the fruit you are bearing by making disciples of your littles is the sweetest thing you can offer to the God who has entrusted them to you.

I do want to mention that, though your children are your primary ministry, you are still called to speak the truth to people as you have opportunity. Our attitude should not be, "I'm raising my children so I've got my ministry check-mark and don't have to do anything else"! Think about other ways you can advance the Kingdom while still focusing the better part of your time on discipling your children.  This could be by speaking to the cashier at the grocery store or to other moms in your play group. You could leave gospel tracts as you go about your errands. You could write letters and speak to relatives as you have opportunity. And, you can support your husband in his ministry efforts outside your home as well as show hospitality in your home. 


What do y'all think?


Menu Plan, August 15-21


Sorry this is late! Yesterday just flew by and I didn't get a chance to get it up. I'm sure you other moms of littles can relate. :)

Simplifying things in the kitchen has been so nice. Less time cooking, fewer dishes to wash...it's definitely working well for this busy season of life! We're still eating healthy, tasty food. I'm just sticking to simpler recipes. With that in mind, here's what we'll be eating this week.

Breakfasts:
::Soaked baked oatmeal (x3) (To soak: substitute half water and half plain yogurt for the milk. Combine yogurt/water mixture, oats, and coconut oil or butter for 12-24hrs. Mix in remaining ingredients and bake as usual)
::Easy breakfast casserole, pan fried potatoes (x2)
::Scrambled eggs with kielbasa, toast (x2)

Lunches:
 ::Peanut butter smoothies (x2)
::Strawberry, banana, yogurt smoothies (x2)
::Leftovers (x2)
::Snack lunch

Dinners:
::Shredded beef tacos (on homemade tortillas, with lettuce, salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc) (x2)
::French Toast, sausage, fruit
::Three cheese garlic chicken pasta, salad, rolls

Friday, August 12, 2011

I can't save them

I was recently very convicted by a short biography I read about Eliza Spurgeon (the mother of the famous preach, Charles Spurgeon) at keeperofthehome.org. Here are a couple excerpts:

Charles gratefully wrote, "I cannot tell how much I owe the solemn words of my good mother...I remember on one occasion her praying thus: 'Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.' That thought of my mother's bearing a swift witness against me pierced my conscience...How can I forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, 'Oh that my son might live before Thee!' "

Finally, Charles awarded his mother great honor when he said of her, "Mrs. John Spurgeon...has been known and esteemed for her sincere piety, her great usefulness and humility... The prayerful solicitude with which she trained her children has been rewarded by each one of them making a public profession of their faith in Christ. Two of her sons occupy foremost places in the metropolis as preachers of the gospel; and one of her daughters, the wife of a minister...assists her husband in the preparation of his sermons.."

You'll have to go here to read the whole thing.

In reading about this oft-overlooked (I had never even heard of her, to my shame!) godly woman, one of the main things that was impressed upon me was that my attempts at godly mothering cannot save my children. Though I would've never said it out loud, so often I try to do this mothering thing on my own strength, trusting in my (often not so fabulous) mother skills to be the salvation of my children. Not so.

Growing up in a Christian family is a true grace to be sure, but only the heart-changing power of Christ, through faith in Him, can save my children from the sin that will otherwise eternally damn their souls. As their mama, I need to do more than just try to be a good mom. I need to constantly to point them to Christ and His Word and spend time in prayer daily pleading before the throne of grace on their behalf.

What do you pray for your children? What do you do to point them to their need for a Savior from early childhood?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A peek into my grocery cart, week 1

I intended to take a picture of my groceries yesterday after I came home from the store, but I just didn't get around to it. However, since several of you said you were interested in seeing exactly what we buy I wanted to go ahead and give you a breakdown of my purchases this week.

Produce:
5.8lbs of organic bananas~$3.77
0.81lbs of locally grown green beans~$0.81
Package of 3 organic romain hearts~$2.99
1 conventional seedless watermelon~$4.99
2 conventional cantaloupes~$3.34
1 organic cucumber~$1.59
3lbs. organic russet potatoes ~ $2.49

Dairy:
2 half-gallons of hormone/antibiotic free, whole, non-homogenized milk~$5.98
2 dozen hormone/antibiotic free, "cage free" eggs~$3.98 (I usually buy farm-fresh eggs for $2.25/doz. but I wasn't able to get to the produce stand, so I settled for these this week)
32oz. container of organic, whole milk yogurt ~ $3.49

Dry/canned foods:
Kettle Potato Chips, Sea Salt variety (large bag)~$3.00
Sliced almonds ~ $4.69
64oz. bottle organic apple juice~$3.69 (We don't usually drink much juice. I bought this for a recipe.)
15oz. can of organic tomato sauce~$1.99
28oz. can of organic, fire roasted crushed tomatoes~$2.99

Meat:
1lb. additive free bulk sausage~$3.00

Household:
12 pack of double roll toilet paper~$5.49

Including tax my total was right around $64.00. Our current budget is $100/week or less. It does vary by week based on our irregular income. I have some cash left over from this week that I am planning to put towards a meat purchase from a local farm next week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Menu Plan, August 8-14






Since we were out of town last week, I hardly had to cook at all. In fact, on Friday when I got home Ben made dinner for me and Saturday my sister-in-law and I made dinner together at the farm. Cooking with someone hardly counts as work--especially when the younger brothers do the dishes!

This week I'm happy to be back in my kitchen, but after doing some schedule reviewing over the weekend I am going to start focusing on streamlining in the kitchen a little more. I want to continue to provide nourishing, real food for my family but spend a little less time in the kitchen while doing it. With that in mind, here's what I have on our  menu for this week:

Breakfasts:
::Soaked baked oatmeal (x2) (To soak: substitute half water and half plain yogurt for the milk. Combine yogurt/water mixture, oats, and coconut oil or butter for 12-24hrs. Mix in remaining ingredients and bake as usual)
::Scrambled eggs with toast (x3)
::Easy breakfast casserole, pan-fried potatoes (x2)

Lunches:::Peanut butter smoothies (x2)
::Fruit and yogurt smoothies (x2)
::Leftovers (x2)
::Snack lunch

Dinners:
(One change here: we've been eating most of our weekend dinners with Ben's family, so realistically I am only fixing dinner four nights a week.)
::Sloppy Chicken Joes, watermelon, green salad
::Chicken and rice salad, green beans
::Cream cheese and chicken red sauce over pasta, salad
::French Toast, sausage, fruit

What are y'all fixing this week? For more inspiration check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A faithful family

I was blessed to spend the better part of the week (we left Tuesday morning and got back this evening) with my children at Grandma's house in North Carolina visiting with part of my extended family. Growing up, I didn't realize how unusual it is to have a close-knit extended family. It was just our normal--my dad has three sisters; between the four of them, there are seven of us grandchildren and we've always had a great time together. These days four of the seven of us are happily married to godly spouses and we have introduced 9 new little people to the world over the past 7 years. You know what that means? Twenty nine people who actually all like each other.

My Grandma has been a faithful servant of Christ since long before I was born. She raised my dad and his sisters to love Christ, and they have raised all of us to do the same. And now we're raising our babes with the prayer that they'll grow up to advance Christ's Kingdom in mighty ways. That makes four generations. Without a doubt, it's our faith in Christ that has caused us have the bond we have. I may not see all my aunts and uncles and cousins as often as I'd like to, but when we're together it's always a joyful time of sweet fellowship and plain ol' fun. That is definitely one of the finer things in life--and I am blessed indeed.

Grandma & Grandpa with the NINE great grandchildren earlier this summer

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Home Management System, Pt. 3: The meal plan

If you are just joining us for this little series here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.

Besides keeping up with cleaning and home maintanence, meal planning is one of my most important tasks as a home manager. Frugally preparing nourishing meals and snacks for my family is a high priority. One of the best tools I have for this task is a weekly menu plan, which most of you probably see here on the blog most Mondays.

Over the years I have changed my menu planning techniques as our seasons of life and food preferences have changed. Right now we purchase a large portion of our food in bulk (meat, grains, sweeteners, and some other pnatry staples) and not at the grocery store, so while I once planned all our meals around store loss leader sales and coupons, my techniques have changed some. Here is how I put together a meal plan every week.

::Calendar. Confession time: I don't keep a paper calendar (which I probably should!). But, before planning our meals I always consider what events we have going on that week. For example, Friday evenings Ben's brothers have our church family to their home for a prayer meeting and Bible study. That's a day to take care of meal preparations early in the day. We always eat dinner with Ben's family on Sundays, so that's something I permanently keep on the meal plan. On days we have a morning appointment I try to have an easy breakfast that I can prepare the night before.

::Leftovers. Is there anything in the fridge that's about to spoil? Plan it into the menu for the first day or two of the week or freeze it. I hate wasting food in our kitchen!

::Food storage. What meats do I have in the freezer? What odds and ends do I have in the pnatry that I need to use?

::Budget. Since Ben is self-employed we have an irregular income and some weeks I have more to spend on groceries than other weeks. It always works out fine but it's definitely something I have to consider when I plan our meals each week.

::Sales. While I buy most of our dry foods and meats in bulk, our grocery store has a wide selection of natural and organic foods that I use to fill in when it goes on sale and I am often able to print coupons to make the deals even better, and I also get most of our produce there. I try to get whatever is organic and on sale and use it to round out our meals.
I put it all together using Money Saving Mom's Seven Day Meal Planner. It contains a list for seven breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Then (in theory) each evening, I fill in our meals for the next day on my daily docket form. I like having a loose meal plan rather than something set for each day of the week. In this season of my life, organization and flexibility are both so important!

In our house, menu planning saves our budget and my sanity. Do you plan your menus?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Benjamin, 7 Months

Benjamin about two weeks ago

Time sure does fly when you have little ones around (I totally missed his 6 month update)! My little Benjamin turned 7 months this past week, and as always, I can hardly believe it! He brings so much joy to our family, and I am so blessed to be his mama. Here's some of what he's been up to lately:

::He finally is sleeping a nice, long 9-10 hour stretch at night. It is so nice! Most days he takes two naps (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), though occasionally he'll take a third one before dinner.

::He has started some solids over the course of the past month! So far, he's tried and loved soft-cooked pastured egg yolks, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, strawberries, bananas, yogurt, beans, chicken, beef (Porterhouse steak, actually. ha!), green beans, corn and potatoes. He ate some butternut squash but it was obvious he didn't like it very well. So far the only thing he's had that he hated were green peas. He actually gagged! To promote a healthy gut, we are planning to delay all grains until after his first birthday, so for now I'm just giving him veggies, fruits, (organic, whole milk) yogurt, and (grassfed) meat and chicken. He loves eating food and gets very offended if we eat and don't share! I've skipped purees and have just been giving him bits of our food. It's so easy and way cheaper (and better quality!) than jarred food.

::His primary food is still mama's milk. He nurses about 6 times/day, and he sure does love it. (Anyone see a pattern? I guess the little fat boy just loves to eat, period. ;)

::He has started saying the syllables "da" and "ba". He's said "ma" a couple times, but doesn't say it often. He watches our mouths very intently when we talk, and you can see him mouthing syllables without saying them out loud. It's really cute!

::He sits up pretty well on his own, and rolls for transportation. He has been getting up on his hands and knees and rocking, but no crawling yet!

Benjamin really is such a sweet baby, and I'm so thankful he's part of our family! He loves his daddy and sister and gets so excited to see them, but for now he's still a little more of a mama's boy. Which I don't mind a bit. :)

How are your littlest ones doing these days?