Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals for 2013

Things have been quiet around here for a while. I'm still figuring out this whole business of mothering three small children, we've been out of town visiting my family for Christmas (we'll head home next week), and I've been working on another project (to be announced soon!)--so I've been distracted.

But, I just love January 1. I love the opportunity to start afresh. Right after the start of this year, I got pregnant with Joshua--so I only ended up completing a couple of my goals for this year. That's just fine though--I got a precious baby out of the deal. :)

As this year comes to a close I've naturally been thinking about next year and I've spent some time over the last week thinking about and settling on some goals for the coming year. The basic process I follow is this:
1. Think through my priorities. During this season of life my goals revolve around my husband, our children, our home, and my own health and well-being (not in a selfish way--but keeping myself healthy helps me to better care for my family)--and the intent of all my goals is ultimately the glory of God in my life.
2. Decide what needs to improve in each area. Once I listed my priorities, I made a list for each one of things I'd like to focus on.
3. Narrow it down. Reality: I have three children under the age of four, including a breastfeeding baby. I work from home 10-ish hours per week. I make the vast majority of the food we eat from scratch. I do not have a moment to waste. I don't have time for everything I'd like to do in theory--so narrowing my list down to the most important items is key.
4. Consult my husband. I am so thankful for Ben's leadership in my life. Once I had my list written out, I talked through it with him to get his input before "finalizing" everything.

 With that, here are my goals for 2013:

::Read through the Bible
::Memorize Psalm 119
::Lose my remaining baby weight plus 14 pounds by the end of October
::Upload/organize photos each month and make a family photo book at the end of the year
::Go through 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life each quarter
::Complete Family Herbalist Course, begin Certified Holistic Wellness Professional course
::Launch my new website (more soon!)
::Have bi-monthly at-home "dates" with Ben
::Have a monthly "business meeting" with Ben 
::Enter the Trinity Foundation essay contest
::Start Kindergarten with Katie
::Teach Katie 40 new catechism questions
::Teach Benjamin 10 catechism questions
::Work with Katie to learn one new chore each month
::Work with Benjamin to learn one new chore each quarter

Happy 2013 you all! What are your goals for the year?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top 10 Newborn Daze Survival Tips

 My newest little man is coming up on 2 months. Already! It doesn't seem like that long ago we were waiting for him to come, but at the same time, now that he's been here a while, it's hard to imagine that he ever wasn't!

Life with a newborn is so beautiful, but certainly comes with its own set of challenges. I definitely don't feel like a veteran mama (and if you saw my texts to my midwife the first week of Joshua's life, you might agree! ha!), but I guess according to statistics, I've had a newborn more times than most women in America ever will. Here are my best tips for surviving the newborn daze.

1. Let things go. Seriously. It's okay to use paper plates. It won't be the end of the world if your floor doesn't get vacuumed and no one will do a white glove inspection to see if you dusted. You won't have time for much when you have a newborn. Life will be easier if you accept that, and focus on recovering from birth and enjoying your baby!

2. Rest when you can. If you're feeling tired and you have the opportunity to take a nap, drop whatever you're doing and take one. When you only slept three hours during the night in five different spurts (okay, that's--thankfully--an exaggeration), even a short nap can do wonders.

3. Nurse, nurse, nurse. In the early days and weeks of breastfeeding, don't worry about scheduling your baby at all (unless he is going too long between feedings). Nurse whenever your baby wants and for however long he will stay at the breast. Breastfeeding helps your uterus contract back into shape, and nursing a lot will help establish a good latch and milk supply.

4. Have good nursing supplies. My top most important item early on is my nursing pillow . In the early days it's great for keeping Baby in position when you're working on his latch. Later on, it's still helpful in lifting Baby up so you don't hurt your back from poor posture while nursing. Also helpful are lanolin for sore nipples, a good nursing cover for when you head back out into the world (or for when someone stops by), and some burp cloths (I use old pre-fold cloth diapers).*Edit*: As a commenter mentioned, add nursing pads to the list!

5. Have some new fun things on hand for older children. While you should definitely include them in your baby tasks when you can, having a new toy or DVD to pull out when you need them to be occupied for a moment can be invaluable.

6. Stock your freezer before Baby comes. I've never done this before this time and now I'm wondering why. It has been amaaaazing to have meals at-the-ready. Maybe this should be #1.

7. Accept help. Don't be embarrassed about your mess. If someone offers to help, take them up on it. And if no one offers to help, consider hiring a young lady from your church to come by and work a few hours as a mother's helper if your budget will allow. Some extra help can make such a huge difference.

8. Sleep with your baby. Having your baby in bed with you can help you to get better rest. You don't have to wake up all the way for those nighttime feedings or worry about falling asleep while Baby is nursing. We didn't do this with Katie but have with both boys and I've been so much more rested during the day. If you decide to co-sleep, make sure to do it safely. After the first few weeks, I suggest trying to start Baby off in his own bed and bring him into bed when he wakes up for his first middle-of-the-night feeding. This ensures some alone time for you and your husband.

9. Take time to talk with friends. If you're like me, you don't get out as much when you have a new baby. When your entire world, 24/7, revolves around someone who can't talk, it can be so refreshing to take some time to visit with a friend. Invite someone to stop by for a cup of tea or give her a call just to chat.

10. Don't forget about your husband. If your husband is anything like mine, he goes far above and beyond in helping after you have a baby. He works all day and then comes home and helps with the cleaning and the kiddos until things are picked up and everyone's down for the night--and he does it even though he's not getting great rest at night either. Try to make sure to carve out a few minutes for some one-on-one time even in the early weeks. It will be good for both of you.

What about y'all? What are your best tips for thriving during the newborn daze?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lila Rose Black Friday Sale!

I know it's been a little quiet around (holidays, new baby, and trying to get back into some semblance of routine!), but our sponsor, Lila Rose Consultant Jamine Bass, emailed me about the fabulous Black Friday sale she has going on and I wanted to make sure y'all knew about it.

All items in the store are 20% off the Retail PriceThis Black Friday special includes the Party Cart as well. In addition, all customer orders over $50.00 will receive Free Shipping.

Jasmine said that in addition to the great Black Friday sale, she'd personally be offering a Buy 3, Get 1 free starting Nov 23rd - Nov 30th. "Customer must purchase at least 3 items from my online shop, then e-mail me at with their order number and item of their choice (up to $16). I will put in their order separately. Allow 1-3 weeks for delivery of free item."

I love my Flexi clips and use one of them just about every day. They make a simple yet elegant accessory and they're super easy to use. You can find my full review here.

Do y'all do Black Friday shopping? Pre-babies I would go out with my Mom, but nowadays I value my sleep too much (and taking babies out in big crowds shopping just isn't too fun). I do keep an eye out for deals online for items we are looking for, though!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Plan, November 12-18

I am so thankful for the freezer stash my Mom helped me put together while she was here before Joshua was born. It has been so unbelievably wonderful to have meals to pull out--especially since take-out or prepackaged foods aren't options even on the rough days due to Ben's food sensitivities.

I still have several meals left in the freezer, so we'll be eating from those--but if there's a day I have time to cook, I'm going to try to so I can stretch the freezer meals for as long as possible.

With that in mind, here's what I have on the plan for this week (* indicates a freezer meal):

Breakfast casserole* with fruit and/or toast

Lunches: Leftovers

BBQ Meatballs*, baked potatoes, salad
Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole*, salad
Chicken, rice and beans, pineapple
Birthday dinner for my brother-in-law
Crockpot Roast Chicken, salad, mashed potatoes*
Chicken noodle soup, salad, coconut flour cheddar biscuits
Sunday dinner at the farm

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, November 9, 2012


The past few weeks, my days (and nights) have been anything but quiet.

Life with three children under the age of four is intense.

But it is oh-so-beautiful.

My sweet Katie's persistent desire to "spend time togeyer." My Benjamin-boy's growing vocabulary and jolly personality that rarely fail to brighten up my day. My adorable, cuddly Joshua who's already learning to smile and coo.

This life the Lord has blessed me with isn't at all quiet, but I wouldn't trade this loud and crazy life for all the quiet days in the world. I couldn't dream of a more wonderful life, noise and all.

Sometimes it's overwhelming. There are moments during the day when all I want is some quiet. Most of the time, it doesn't (and can't) happen. 

And in those moments when all I want is quiet I can't have, in the midst of all the loudness, I can still look to the One Who created me for this loudness--the One Who can bring quiet to my heart even when my world is anything but.

This post is part of Five Minute Friday--though it took a few minutes extra because (a not-so-quiet) life was happening around me while I wrote. ;)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Adjusting to Life with 3 Children

My mom went home last Thursday, so we've been "on our own" with all three babies for over a week now. It's been an interesting week! We are definitely in "survival mode."

Joshua has proven to be my 'neediest' little one so far, refusing to sleep anywhere but mama's arms the vast majority of the time. Aside from one 2 hour stretch in his bassinet and a few 5-10 minute spurts here and there, and one afternoon when he happily napped in his carseat twice (a total of about 3 hours), he has spent the vast majority of the past 17 days in my arms.

I always thought babies who refused to sleep in their beds did so because they were spoiled. But Joshua was like this from Day 1 before I even had a chance to spoil him. So, I stand corrected.

I love snuggling my sweet baby boy. But, it has made the adjustment more challenging. Even with comfy baby-wearing options, it's just hard to get as much done. I think my biggest struggle has been the lack of focused time I've had with Katie and Benjamin. They're handling it pretty well for the most part, but both definitely have their moments.

By nature, I really thrive on predictability, routine, and being in control of the situation, so a needier baby is doing much to teach me how little control I actually have! I can't really plan out our days...and the five item to-do list I made myself on Monday still isn't all crossed off. Besides washing clothes and putting dishes in the dishwasher, I've really barely done any cleaning.

Ben has been so incredibly helpful. He's kept up with the essential cleaning tasks and the others are just on the back burner for now without a complaint from anyone. I can't imagine what life with three children 3 and under would look like without him--though I suppose it's true enough that without him, I wouldn't have these three beautiful children. ;)

We've been eating oatmeal for breakfast every day, pulling dinners out of the freezer (what will I do when they're gone?!), and having leftovers for lunch. And we've been eating on paper plates and putting everything we can in the dishwasher, which we've been running every day even if it's not completely full.

Survival mode to be sure.

Oh, but the days are sweet. There's just nothing in the world like snuggling a newborn babe. It's such a precious season, and if Joshua is anything like my other two, soon enough he'll be too busy for much snuggling. So, if I'm a little scarce around here in the coming weeks, it's because I'm busy snuggling the cutest newborn boy, reading books with big kids, and throwing in an occasional load of laundry in the 3.8 spare minutes I have each day.

Happy November!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Joshua's First Week

My little guy is already 11 days old! We are doing really well. This has by far been my easiest post-partum recovery. I'm a little tired, but other than that, I'm feeling fabulous. Joshua is nursing like a champ and has already passed his birth weight (he was 9lbs., 5oz. yesterday when my midwife came). My mom went home on Thursday, but I haven't had a full day by myself with all three kiddos by myself yet. I think life is going to be a little crazy for a bit with these three, but I wouldn't have it any other way! God has blessed us tremendously.

One hour old, getting checked out by my midwife

7 hours old, snuggling with mama
Meeting their new brother. I love these people more than I can say. 

Meeting Grandpa
Our little (not quite so little anymore?) family with my mom and dad
First outing--Mommy needed to go to the chiropractor

My cup runneth over. And so does my back seat. ;)
My life's work <3

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

I've spent about 95% of my time over the past week (yes, week--already!) snuggling a newborn while my sweet mom and husband have tended to my older two children and taken care of our home.

In the midst of all my sitting around (this baby nurses more often than either of my other two did), I had a chance to read a pre-release copy of 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine. I have always been inspired and encouraged to productivity by Crystal's writing and this eBook was no exception.

So often, I have grand plans and then lack the discipline to follow through and to make them become a reality. And now that I have three children aged three and under (yes, it's still sinking in--and since Mom has been here, my new reality hasn't completely set in yet!), I will have no choice but to be disciplined if I'm going to do everything I need to do in a day.

If you're anything like me, you could think of one or two dozen things in your life you'd love to change--and, if you're like me, you've tried more than once to change everything overnight and failed miserably. :)

In her eBook, Crystal lays out a plan for developing discipline in your life by focusing on one habit and plus a "mega" project for three weeks at a time. The book is filled with encouragement and helpful tips for slowly making lasting changes. I think it's a great resource, and one I plan to put to good use.

Today is the eBook's release date and through Thursday of this week, you can purchase the PDF here or the Kindle version on Amazon for only $0.99! In addition to the great price, through Thursday everyone who purchases the eBook can also receive a free printable calendar/planner by entering their purchase information here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Joshua's Birth--October 16, 2012

We have taken photos of our son. I just haven't put them on the computer yet. So, here's the birth story...cute baby photos to come. :)

Joshua had been threatening to come for weeks--even before I reached full-term status. Pressure and contractions had left me wondering several times over the past weeks if they would turn into active labor. But, my due-date came and went and still no baby!

When I woke up in the wee hours of Monday morning, the contractions I was having were different. They actually hurt quite a bit (“Oh, yeah—this is what real contractions feel like!”), and they came every 8 minutes for nearly four hours. I didn’t really wonder whether they were it. At 40 weeks and 5 days, I “knew.” Until they slowed way down around 7 and I went back to bed.  Throughout the day on Monday, I continued to have strong contractions, but they were 20-30 minutes apart for most of the day.

By late afternoon, I tried to take a nap and the contractions woke me up about every 15 minutes. After my nap, I texted my midwife with an update.  I think we all assumed labor would probably become active during the night. Both my midwife and her partner were headed to births, so I learned that another midwife was on-call for me. 

She called me just to get an idea of what was going on and to introduce herself. At that time, contractions were still about 15 minutes apart. She asked me to call her back with an update in an hour. By that time, they were about 8 minutes apart.  They weren’t lasting a full minute, but during my labor with Benjamin, they never did—so that didn’t mean much to me. 

We were heading out the door to go to my in-laws’ farm to celebrate a birthday. They are only half a mile down the road from us, so I wasn’t worried about it, and the midwife agreed it might be a good distraction. We enjoyed a nice dinner together and while we were hanging out afterword, I had one really strong contraction and decided I wanted to come home. Ben stayed with the kids (I had made Katie finish off her dinner with a promise of birthday cake, so we decided he would stay with the kids until after cake unless I needed him home sooner) and Mom and I came home and played Yahtzee.
As we played, contractions kept coming but they were still spaced pretty far apart—even going beyond the 8 minutes to 10 and 15 minutes apart. I called the midwife to check in, and she said to just give her a call once they were at 5 minutes apart for an hour. 

Ben and the kids got home a little before 10 and we rushed through the bedtime routine and crawled into bed ourselves. We turned on Netflix and I tried to sleep in between contractions. For about an hour, they were 20 minutes apart, so I was able to get a little bit of rest. However, the intensity was picking up, so once they got closer together, I just couldn’t keep laying down. 

By about 1:20, the contractions were still far apart (8-12 minutes), but they were becoming increasingly difficult for me to cope with. I also started getting shaky like I typically do immediately post-partum. Ben suggested maybe I should go ahead and call the midwife. I was reluctant because I didn’t want to bother her in the middle of the night if it wasn’t real, active labor. 

I assumed the contractions weren’t accomplishing much since they were not very close together.  At the same time, in the back of my mind, I knew that with my previous births I had dealt with my contractions pretty well until the very end—and the shakiness had me wondering also. I was feeling pretty discouraged because I had been awake for the better part of 24 hours and because my contractions were so spaced, I figured I still had a long time to go. The other thing I was distressed about was the lower back pain I was starting to feel. I worked this pregnancy to keep my back in shape, hoping to avoid the awful back labor I had with Benjamin and I was just really worried it was going to get really bad.

In any case, I decided to go ahead and call. The midwife who had been on-call for me told me that my midwife (Leslie) had been home from the other birth for a couple of hours, so she called her and Leslie called me right back. We talked for about two minutes and she said she would head over.  This was at about 2 AM on Tuesday.

Knowing Leslie was on her way really helped my state of mind. Ben started setting up the tub in between rubbing my lower back during contractions. I was sitting on the exercise ball, and began praying that my contractions would get closer together so things would progress because I was just really worn out. And I was worried that I had called the midwife too soon and really didn’t want to waste her time if it wasn’t real, active labor.

Within 20 minutes, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. Then, at 2:48 my water broke. This was a big surprise for me because I’ve never had my water break before I was pushing. My initial thought was that my midwife might miss the birth because I knew she was still 10 minutes away—and once I start pushing, my babies come quickly (Katie was 11 minutes, Benjamin was less than 2). 

I also thought I might be being too optimistic by assuming he was coming that soon, though. My contractions had only been close together for about 20 minutes and even though they hurt a lot, it didn’t seem like they hurt enough to be transition contractions. 

Leslie came in the door at 3 and called the birth assistant immediately when I told her my water had broken. She started setting things up. Because my water was broken and because of my history (I was only 5 cm an hour and 45 minutes before Benjamin was born), she decided not to check me for dilation. I was sort of disappointed, but also relieved—I had been dreading lying on my back so she could check me, and the inevitable contraction that would happen. And I figured if I wasn’t very dilated, I would just be discouraged.

With the next couple of contractions, I began to really feel like the baby was descending and I started saying I thought he would be coming soon. I was worried I was being too optimistic again, but at the same time, it’s a pretty unique sensation.

I had one contraction on all fours on our bed and then I got into the tub at about 3:30. I hadn’t planned to necessarily give birth in the water, but I was looking forward to the relief the hot water would bring. I was on all fours in the water and with my next contraction, I started pushing. He crowned and I was able to reach down and feel his head coming out with the next push. 

At that point, it was all pretty euphoric. My baby was coming, and I was able to touch him as I worked with the next couple of contractions to get his body out. Pushing was different this time than it was during my other births. There was meconium when my water broke with Katie, so they had me push-push-push instead of waiting for contractions. With Benjamin, I didn’t really have to push—he just came out. So even though I only had to push for four minutes with Joshua, I felt more burning because he was stretching my perineum longer. I was concerned I had torn.

Joshua was born at 3:35! As soon as Leslie lifted him out of the water, he let out a sweet little cry. I turned around and sat down and she placed him right on my chest. I held him there for a while, was able to nurse him a little bit and only handed him off to Ben because my placenta just wouldn’t come out in the position I was sitting in. 

Once the placenta was out, Leslie and Dorcas (the same assistant who helped at Benjamin’s birth—unfortunately, she got here a few minutes after Joshua was already born) helped me to the bed. I was so relieved to hear that, for the first time, I hadn’t torn at all (with Katie I needed stitches, with Benjamin the tearing was slight enough that I didn’t). Once I nursed a little bit more, Leslie helped me get cleaned up and dressed and then weighed and measured him. We all thought he looked and felt a bit smaller than Benjamin was at birth. He came in at 9lbs., 3oz. and 22 inches long. He’s a little smaller, but not by much (2 oz. and ¾ of an inch)!

Joshua’s birth was so perfect. My whole labor and delivery were filled with so many answered prayers, a beautiful testimony to me of the kindness of God. In addition, it was by far my easiest (or, least difficult?) birth and my recovery so far is going really, really well.

We are so thankful to the Lord for a healthy labor and delivery and of course, for the incredible gift of our precious son. Our prayer for him, as for his older sister and brother, is that God would grant him faith at a young age and that he would live out all his days in service to Christ.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pregnancy Update: 40 Weeks, 6 Days

Joshua Gianavel Murch
Born 10/16/12 at home at 3:35am
9lbs., 3oz; 22 inches long

We are once again in awe at the kindness of God towards our family in blessing us with another sweet babe, and thankful for a healthy delivery for both Joshua and I. Birth story to follow soon!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lilla Rose Flexi Clip (Review & Giveaway!)

As a busy mama of two children three and under (soon to be three--we're still waiting for Mr. Joshua to make his appearance!), I have very little time to primp. I try to look put together most days even if I'm not leaving the house for anything, but my hair is probably my biggest shortcoming in that regard. Most days' tasks are much more practical to complete with my hair pulled back--so I wear a pony tail or a messy bun and call it good.

Recently, Jasmine Bass, a Lilla Rose Independent Consultant, sent Katie and I some Flex Clips to try. We have really enjoyed them!

About Flexi Clips:
  • They are simple-to-use one piece hair clips (which is great because there aren't any pieces to lose!).
  • They can be used for 8 different hair styles. There are videos on the Lilla Rose site showing how to do each style. I've found these really helpful--and Katie has really enjoyed watching them with me.
  • They come in sizes Mini to Extra Large. It is important to watch the sizing video to see which size would work best for your hair and the styles you want to do.

Katie and I with our matching hair. She *loves* her clip
and is really into matching Mommy these days. :)
I love that I can dress up my pony tail and half-up with an elegant clip without taking any more time getting ready than I would using a regular hair tie.

I've also enjoyed learning how use my clip to put my hair into a French twist (I did have to watch the video a few times to figure it out!). It looks so much nicer than a messy bun and manages to keep my hair off my neck and out of the way all day.

Besides loving the clips, I love that Jasmine has started her Lilla Rose business to help raise money so she and her husband can become parents by adoption. The Basses' goal is to accomplish this debt free!

Jasmine has kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway here! One Covenant Homemaking reader will win a Lilla Rose gift certificate, good for one Flexi Clip (or other Lilla Rose product up to $16). You can enter using the Rafflecopter form below. 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My little girl

My precious Katie is just five months away from her fourth birthday. The sweet babe who began my journey as a mama is growing up before my very eyes; it's such an incredible blessing to be a part of it!

Since life will be changing a lot here pretty soon, I'd been wanting to take Katie out for some special time--just the two of us. Once I have an exclusively breastfed baby again such opportunities will be scarce for a while. Yesterday (thanks to Ben staying home and spending the day with Benjamin), the opportunity presented itself.

Katie was really excited about going out with Mommy. I was excited too. I love that little girl more than I can even say.

We went to my midwife appointment together, stopped at Target, went out for lunch (Moe's--her very favorite), went to a local consignment store, and picked up milk at "our" farm. 

It was so interesting to sit at the table across from her at lunch, talking, just us. As we made our various stops, we talked about all sorts of things. As we went from place to place, I was struck repeatedly at how grown up my little girl is becoming--and I couldn't help but think about how one day soon, she'll actually be grown up.

For now, I am Katie's closest friend. She talks to me about everything. And I want it to stay that way. These days we talk about dolls, animals, farming equipment (what can I say? We live in the country.), and imaginary friends (and deeper things as they come up, of course).

I invest time and thought into those conversations in large part because one day, she'll have bigger, more important things to talk about, and when that time comes, I still want to be her confidant. I want her to know I have time to listen and talk about things that are important to her.

As we enjoyed our day out together, I couldn't help but be so thankful that I'm able to spend all my days with this precious little girl, developing such a sweet relationship with her. It was really nice to have some special time out with her before Baby arrives--but it's the day-in, day-out time with her that has allowed such a lovely relationship to blossom. Our "date" was just icing on the cake.

Thank you all for sticking around during this quieter season of my life. Since we are just days away from meeting our newest addition, I've been focusing most of my time and energy on getting ready for his arrival and savoring our last days as a family of four. We are so blessed!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pregnancy Update, 37 Weeks (!)

Taken this morning--37 weeks & 3 days
As of this week, we officially reached "full-term" status! Both Katie and Benjamin came after their due-dates, so I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for labor to start--but this baby is quite a bit lower sooner, and I started having a lot of pressure and occasional contractions right at 36 weeks. So--I'm trying to be as ready as I can just in case.

Our home visit was last Friday. It was exciting to go over all the details, knowing that within just a few weeks they'll all be back at my house to welcome our sweet boy into the world! Because of all the pressure I'd been having we decided to go ahead and do an internal exam to see what was going on (mostly because I was curious). Baby was at "-1" station and I was 1 cm. dilated.

All seems well with the baby and myself. My blood pressure, glucose, and hemoglobin levels are great. I measured 35 cm., and I've gained 27 pounds. I've been feeling pretty good, though I have some normal aches and pains that come with being hugely pregnant. I have been going to the chiropractor every week, which has helped my back stay in pretty good shape.

While there are a few more organizing projects I'd love to get done before this little man makes his appearance, we are pretty much ready when he is. I can't believe it will be just days until I have him in my arms!

I have gotten to the place where I am actually really looking forward to laboring and giving birth rather than dreading it. I've done it twice in the past 3 1/2 years, so I know (I know) it will hurt like nothing else and be really hard work. But birth is just so beautiful. Even though it's so hard, I look back on both Katie's and Benjamin's births with such awe.

Truly, God has designed our bodies so wonderfully. It's so incredible that the babe I feel kicking around in my belly, this babe who I love so very dearly, did not even exist at the start of this year. In January he was microscopic and now he is a full-sized child who could fit into the sweet clothes that are washed and waiting for him. He has spent his entire life in my belly, and soon my body will do the amazing work of bringing him out into the world.

God's handiwork is just awesome.

How are you other pregnant mamas? Anyone have a new baby?

Other Updates from this pregnancy:
::5 Weeks
::17 Weeks
::22 Weeks
::27 Weeks
::32 Weeks

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Live purposefully. Life is short.

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. 
For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 
~James 4:14

People often acknowledge that life is short. I think most people throw this acknowledgement around sort of flippantly, assuming they'll have 80 or 90 years before it's all said and done. Some of them will--and I suspect even for those, when they look back at their lives, they'll wonder where all the time went. 

But many won't have that long.

I received a vivid reminder of this truth this week when my mom called me with horribly tragic news. My 31 year-old cousin was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday morning from what appears to have been a diabetic incident. I was very much saddened, and completely shocked.

Luis and I weren't very close. We did have some nice times together, but the reality was there were many years, miles, and world-view differences that separated us and we just didn't get to spend much time together. 

The last conversation I had with him was over email after Ben and I got engaged. He wrote to congratulate me, and we went back and forth several times. We talked about our different plans for the future--I was thrilled about beginning life with Ben; he was in culinary school, hoping to eventually start a nice restaurant and marry a nice girl some day.

Sadly, his time was up before his plans came to pass.

Based on what I know about him and the outpouring of friends and family I've seen on his Facebook page the past couple of days, Luis was a blessing to many in his short life and I know he will be sorely missed by a lot of folks.

His untimely death has certainly been a reminder to me of the brevity of life. 

Like most young people, I go about my days with the assumption that I have a lot of them left--far more ahead of me than I have behind me. As I rock my babies, I occasionally even daydream about one day rocking their babies

And, Lord willing, I may live to see my children's children--and possibly even their children (and their children!). If I do, I will certainly count myself a blessed woman. 

But the reality is that I may not live that long. I could die in 10 years, or I could die tomorrow. I'm sure when Luis woke up on his last day, he didn't imagine it was--and yet that very day, he took his last breath. 

It will probably be that way for most of us. One day we will wake up and, though we're not expecting it, before the day is over, we'll be gone. We don't want to live in constant fear of death, but we can't ignore its reality either. And we ought to live like people who know we're going to die.

For me? The death of my cousin at the all-too-young age of 31 has been a stark reminder to live purposefully--to pour myself all the more into serving Christ with all I am, to be the wife my amazing husband deserves, to cherish my babes as the precious gifts they are, to not waste time on things that really don't matter; to plan for the future, while living every day like it could be my last.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Home Management: Simplified & Streamlined, Remember the Goal

I've really enjoyed doing this series with Rachel. Examining different aspects of my home management and figuring out how I can spend less time on them has been really helpful.

Over the course of this series we've:
-Tracked our time use, created time budgets, and developed simple routines
-Organized our kitchens
-Stocked our freezers
-Revamped our menu planning systems and worked on getting breakfast and lunch on the table faster
-Worked on decluttering our homes
-Developed cleaning routines that work for our current season of life

We've covered a lot of ground!

I think any time we undertake something new, it's really important to consider the goal. Why do we want to simplify and streamline the management of our homes? I want to spend less time on cooking and cleaning (and other household management tasks) is because I don't clean for the sake of having a clean house. I clean, cook, and organize as part of my ministry to my family. 

Having a clean, smoothly running home is a means to an end--creating a welcoming, warm home for my husband after a day's work, a lovely place for my children to learn and grow and create memories, and a place we are able to exercise hospitality,  a place we can do life in a Christ-honoring way.

God has given us our homes, our families, and the twenty-four hours we have each day and He calls us to steward them well. Ultimately, the goal in all of the tasks we undertake as homemakers (and any other roles we fill) should be to glorify Him.

As we close out this series, I am looking forward to continuing to use the ideas we've discussed in the management of my home, especially as we get ready to welcome a new person into our family in just a few weeks. I'll need everything (besides snuggle time!) to be as simple and streamlined as I can make it!

Be sure to visit Rachel at Intentionally Simple this week to read her concluding thoughts.

Friday, September 7, 2012

An update on The List

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the list of things I want/need to get done before Baby #3 makes his appearance. Thankfully, I've been able to chip away at it quite a bit. My original goal was to have everything done by September 10, which I don't think will happen--but I'm shooting to have it done by the end of next week. We'll see how it goes!

To do:

  • Organize all our children's clothes. Sort things into hand-me-downs for Joshua, a few special girl items to save, and items to consign/give to Goodwill.
  • Wash, sort and, and store clothes Joshua will use. Put newborn and 0-3 month clothes in his drawer.
  • Put together a toy organization system Katie can handle by herself.
  • Fix the cabinet door on the children's dresser.
  • Make cloth wipes
  • Clean and set up bassinet
  • Freeze at least 10 dinners worth of food, plus breakfast items {I have 4 dinners' worth of main dishes frozen plus a few miscellaneous things}
  • Order more cloth diapers (I'm thinking 10-12 more) and get them washed and ready to go {The diapers are here and have been washed once. They say to wash them 3-5 times before using}
  • Get noise machine, hamper, and GoodNite Lite for Katie and Benjamin's room {The noise machine is working out so well we opted to skip the GoodNite Lite for now}
  • Pick up a new DVD or two for Katie and Benjamin (not because I advocate rotting their brains in front of the TV all day--but I know there will be the occasional moment when I really need something to hold their attention during the transition into life with three babes)
  • Purchase a Baby K'Tan carrier (I've finally settled on this to add to my baby-wearing arsenal)
  • Order birth kit
  • Gather other birth supplies {Everything is bought. I just need to get it all in one place}

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Home Management: Simplified and Streamlined, Cleaning Routine

I have long struggled in keeping up with a regular cleaning routine. Most days, I feel like I do well to just keep up with the daily necessities (dishes, etc.)--but the reality is that toilets and floors do need to be cleaned regularly.

Our assignment for last week was to develop a simple cleaning routine. After giving it a little bit of thought, I decided to go back to the Motivated Moms chore planner. What could be more simple than someone else making a list of what needs to be done and when? :)

For $4, I downloaded this year's planner (regular price is $8, but once the year is halfway over, the cut the price in half). I have used Motivated Moms in the past, and I definitely can see the difference in our home when I keep up with the list (and I love having a list to check off--ha!). For me, the small price is definitely worth it. I'm not sure why I stopped following their list before (I think I finished 2010 using it, and never picked back up at the start of 2011 right after Benjamin was born), and I'm definitely glad to have it as a helpful tool once again in simplifying my homemaking.

I find that most days, the chores take around half an hour or less. In case you're curious, here are the chores on the list for the last two days:

Change dishcloth/towel
Change hand towels in bathrooms
Clean top shelf of refrigerator
Inventory refrigerator contents and plan meals around leftovers
Vacuum main/public rooms or first floor
Clean Toilets
Replenish stock of toilet paper in bathrooms

Clean out purse/wallet
Pay/File bills
Clean bathroom mirrors
Clean/wash hairbrushes and combs
Dust children's/guest room(s)

Another thing I love about their system is that if you miss a day or part of a day, it's easy to catch up in little bits of time throughout the remainder of the week. And everything will show up on the list again--so if you just can't get to it one day, you can get to it the next time.

In addition to the Motivated Moms weekly chore lists, I have a list of chores I try to do every day to keep things tidy. These can be found throughout our daily routine which I posted several weeks back as part of this series .

This week, we're just going to focus on continuing to apply all the things we've worked towards throughout the series and we'll be wrapping up next week!

Be sure to visit Rachel at Intentionally Simple to see her cleaning routine!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Home Management: Simplified and Streamlined, Decluttering

First off, I am so sorry this post is going up so late! It has been a fun and busy week with my mom in town. I've also been working feverishly to finish up a lengthy paper (which needs to be done by tomorrow at the latest and I still haven't finished!)--so that has been occupying all of my writing time.

Last week's project was decluttering. If I was not almost 8 months pregnant and busy keeping up with two other children, I would have loved to do a top-to-bottom de-clutter of my entire house. But, I knew that just wasn't realistic so I didn't even go there.

However, with Mom's help we spent about 5 or 6 hours one afternoon doing a big declutter project that I really, really wanted done before Joshua's arrival (due date is 6 weeks from today!). We were able to go through all the children's clothes in my entire house and sort them into things to consign, things to go to Goodwill, and things to keep for future babies.

I meant to take a picture, but totally forgot until after I dropped things off at a consignment store and Goodwill. But, seriously, I could not believe how many clothes my children had. Goodwill got a big black trash bag plus three normal-sized white trash bags (it felt so good to hand those bags over), I was able to sell some items to Once Upon a Child, and I'm working on getting the remaining things washed and packed away (either to save, or to consign during other seasons)--except the newborn and 0-3 month boy clothes, which will be washed and put in Joshua's drawer (awwww).

It feels so good to be mostly done with this project, as I've been wanting to do it for months. I think Mom and I will probably be able to button it up completely today before she heads out tomorrow.

Week 11 Project: Cleaning Routine
This week, Rachel and I are going to be working on developing simple cleaning routines. I feel like I do pretty well if I can just stay on top of daily stuff--but mopping, dusting, etc. are a wee bit neglected in these parts.

Be sure to head over to Rachel's post at Intentionally Simple to see her decluttering results! I really admire her low-clutter lifestyle and would like to have her decluttering skills when I grow up. ;)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting ready for Baby #3

That photo of our little man was taken almost fourteen weeks ago. Y'all, that means I have less than 7 weeks until his due-date!

I am getting really excited to meet my sweet baby boy, and my brain has definitely transitioned into "getting ready for baby" gear. Since this is my third time welcoming a baby into the world (and it's been less than two years since I had a baby boy), we have basically everything we need. It's just a matter of organizing and getting ready. And, since I have some experience, I also know what things will matter to me after the birth and be important in making for a speedy recovery and peaceful transition.

A couple of weeks ago, I put together a list of things I want to do and things I need to (or would like to) buy before Joshua makes his appearance.Thankfully with help from Ben and my Mom, I've been able to chip away at my list.

To do:

  • Organize all our children's clothes. Sort things into hand-me-downs for Joshua, a few special girl items to save, and items to consign/give to Goodwill.
  • Wash, sort and, and store clothes Joshua will use. Put newborn and 0-3 month clothes in his drawer.
  • Put together a toy organization system Katie can handle by herself.
  • Fix the cabinet door on the children's dresser.
  • Make cloth wipes
  • Clean and set up bassinet
  • Freeze at least 10 dinners worth of food, plus breakfast items 
  • Order more cloth diapers (I'm thinking 10-12 more) and get them washed and ready to go
  • Get noise machine, hamper, and GoodNite Lite for Katie and Benjamin's room
  • Pick up a new DVD or two for Katie and Benjamin (not because I advocate rotting their brains in front of the TV all day--but I know there will be the occasional moment when I really need something to hold their attention during the transition into life with three babes)
  • Purchase a Baby K'Tan carrier (I've finally settled on this to add to my baby-wearing arsenal)
  • Order birth kit
  • Gather other birth supplies
My goal is to have everything finished by September 10, so we're ready a month before the due-date (just in case he comes early--though I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen!).

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Goals for This Week

It's a goal 

I have been reading Eat That Frog! this week on the Kindle app. on my phone and felt inspired to start setting weekly goals again after not being diligent in this area over the past several weeks. I spent some time yesterday afternoon thinking through our week and my priorities and came up with goals for this week.

Waking up on a Monday morning with an aim in mind for the week makes such a difference, in my opinion! It helped that Ben very sweetly helped me clean the entire house on Saturday. Waking up to a nice, tidy house makes it a lot easier to be productive, too. :)

Here are my goals for this week:

-Exercise four times (yoga twice, cardio/toning twice)
-Start the Make the Most of Your Mornings Challenge

-Have breakfast ready by 8:30 every morning {I know it may seem silly putting this as a marriage goal, but it makes a big difference in Ben's work day to get out of the house at a reasonable hour!}

-Work with them at picking up their own toys every day. {We just put a shelf in their room on Saturday that can hold everything, so I'm hoping to have this responsibility completed handed over to Miss Katie before we meet Joshua!}    

Home Management:
-Have the whole house tidied up at least once every day.
-Decide right after breakfast what we'll be having for lunch {instead of waiting until everyone is hungry!}
-Sort through ALL of our stored children's clothes. Pare way down on little girl clothes (planning to take things to a consignment shop) and get hand-me-downs washed, ready, and organized for Joshua {My mom is coming into town on Thursday and we'll be working on this together!}

-Finish and send in my essay

-Post at least three times

Home Management: Simplified & Streamlined, Breakfast & Lunch

Just as a note, Rachel and I decided to switch to posting for this series on Mondays instead of Fridays.

Our project for last week was to focus on ways to streamline breakfast and lunch. Our family usually eats all three meals together each day, and especially at breakfast, it seems to take forever to get a hearty meal on the table and manage to eat and get on with the day in a timely manner. Most days, it's the same with lunch--rather than a quick, filling meal, we end up with a major interruption midday.

I certainly wasn't perfect in getting breakfast and lunch on the table quickly every day last week, but there were a few things I did that definitely worked well for us.

::Plan ahead. I do have a menu plan every week, but I never don't always follow it religiously. Knowing for sure the night before what we're having for breakfast and figuring out right after breakfast what we'll have for lunch helps tremendously.

::Prepare ahead. Baked oatmeal can be mixed up the night before and baked in the morning as can breakfast casserole. One night, I mixed up the dry ingredients for a batch of muffins and had the other ingredients ready to go and breakfast came together a lot quicker. Anything that can be done ahead of time (at a more convenient time!) helps. I also stashed some extra muffins in the freezer, which made for a nice quick breakfast--thaw them out over night, scramble some eggs, and serve it with some fruit for a nice, hearty breakfast in under 15 minutes.

::Plan for leftovers. I try to make enough dinner to eat leftovers for lunch several times each week. This is about as simple as it gets, and often provides me with a little more protein than typical lunchtime staples would.

::Have back-ups available. Yesterday, I figured that today we'd have enough leftovers to eat for lunch. I was wrong. So, we had oatmeal for lunch. Is it our favorite? No. But, it worked (I do grocery shopping Monday evenings, so we were out of several staples!). Keeping things on hand for a quick lunch of smoothies, macaroni and cheese, quesadillas, a snack-y lunch, or other simple meals is a great way to get some healthy food in your kiddos midday without taking forever.

What do you all do to get meals on the table quicker?  Be sure to visit Rachel at Intentionally Simple to see how she's streamlining breakfast and lunch!

Week 10 Project:
This week, we're moving out of the kitchen and into the rest of the house. We'll begin by focusing on decluttering, since the less unnecessary stuff we have to clean, to easier cleaning is. I've got a big de-clutter project to get done before Joshua is born, so I'm going to try to get that done this week. We'll be back next week with an update and the next project!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pregnancy Update, 32 Weeks

32 weeks, 1 day

32 weeks already?! That means I only have one more prenatal check-up until my midwife and birth assistants come for a home visit--and after the home visit, we go to weekly check-ups until this little man makes his appearance. Basically, I'm going to blink my eyes a couple of times, and this babe will be here.

We had a check-up with my midwife yesterday, and everything looks great. I've gained 23 pounds so far. My blood pressure was still good (106/60--it has been right around 100/60 the whole pregnancy), Baby is measuring right on (32cm.) and sounded good. He is head down and in a great position for birth already. Last time I went he was quite low, and gratefully he has moved up some. It was a little early to be feeling the pressure I was feeling!

He is a busy, busy guy and is the first of my three to actually wake me up during the night with his antics. I will be interested to see if his personality matches his busy-ness. With Katie and Benjamin, this did prove to be the case! I think it's pretty fun to have several months to begin getting to know your baby before you give birth.

I am feeling pretty good overall. I've started to waddle a bit and bending over are getting a little more difficult, and the past few days I've had a hard time getting back to sleep after waking up to use the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning. I'm really hoping that is just a passing thing, and not something that will happen all the way until I'm waking up with a baby in the wee hours of the morning!

I've been thinking more earnestly about actually preparing for Joshua's arrival and have a list going of things I want to do/buy. So far, nothing is crossed off. But--my mom is coming into town next week, and I'm hoping to make a good dent in the list while she's here. I'll probably share a little more about my plans with y'all before too long.

How are you other pregnant mamas doing? I'd love to hear your updates in the comments!

PS: For those who are interested, here is my 32 Week update from when I was pregnant with Benjamin.