Thursday, December 5, 2013

Creating family traditions

We put up our tree yesterday--still need to dig the skirt out. :)
We still have a young family so we're definitely still figuring out what traditions we want to have. Last year we spent Christmas in Florida with my family and didn't even put up a tree since we left almost a week before Christmas. This year, we're staying here and Mom and Dad are coming up.

We went to our very favorite local farm to pick out a tree on Tuesday evening. It was our first time getting a real tree (we've had a Charlie Brown-esque artificial tree that was the cheapest one we could find our first Christmas married...kind of glad to retire it!).

Yesterday afternoon we set aside a few hours to decorate and enjoy some family time. It was so fun and I think we'll try to repeat it every year.

Katie and I made some cookies. We started with an oatmeal cookie bar recipe, but it turned out more like granola and didn't stick together *at all*, so we tried again with my old stand-by oatmeal cookie recipe from Good Cheap Eats. Add-ins were raisins and chocolate chips. Yum! They aren't particularly Christmas-y, but they are so tasty and relatively healthy as far as cookies go. I subbed whole spelt flour for all-purpose and sucanat for the brown sugar.

In between munching on cookies we decorated the tree. It was so fun to go through all our ornaments and reminisce about each one while showing them to the children. Some I've had since I was a little girl. The clear and gold beaded ones were made by my sweet Grandma who went to be with the Lord this spring. She made some for our wedding and some she gave us for our first Christmas in Virginia.

After we got the tree set up, we made hot chocolate and watched a Christmas movie. This year's choice was Home Alone. Ben and I hadn't seen it since we were kids. It had us in stitches the whole time and the kids seemed to really enjoy it too.

I love the idea of having our own little family traditions and I'm thankful we had a chance to create some sweet memories together yesterday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Joshua's First Birthday Letter

Dear Joshua,

I think I say this every time one of my children has a birthday, but has a whole year really gone by already? It doesn't seem like all that long ago when we were anticipating your arrival!

Your birth was an amazing experience, by far the easiest of my three. My recovery from giving birth to you was also easier than it was the previous times--which I was especially thankful for since I only had Grandma around for a week!

As with your older siblings, your unique personality was evident to me while you were yet in my womb and you proved true to it in the days and months following your birth. You aren't quite as busy as Katie was, but at the same time, you're not nearly as laid back as Benjamin. Adjusting to life as a mother of three was (and still is!) quite challenging, but I feel like I'm getting into the swing of things--and I certainly wouldn't change it for anything in the world!

For the first six or so weeks of your life, I could not do anything to get you to sleep off of my body. Until you were born, I had the false notion that babies were only ever like that because they were spoiled. Indeed not, since you were like that your first day of life on the outside! Babywearing became my friend, and you eventually adjusted to life in the outside world--though you do still love to snuggle with your mama (during the day and at all hours of the night).

You crawled at around 7 months, started taking steps around 10 months, and became a proficient walker at 11 months. You got your first tooth when you were 7 months. You already have 8 teeth, and appear to be working on your first molar.  You've been a busy boy, eager to keep up with Katie and Benjamin. You enjoy being in the middle of whatever they're doing, which sometimes gets you into trouble! Thankfully, Katie and Benjamin are {usually} really sweet with you. Benjamin really didn't ever learn how to be gentle, but you survived and I'm sure you're a lot tougher for it!

You started eating solids just before 9 months, after a long bout of yeast caused us to delay them (you were the first of my children to take a prescription medicine...I just couldn't get the yeast to go away!). Aside from avocado (which you loved at first!), you love pretty much everything you eat. You're my best vegetable-eater so far, and I hope you keep it up! Seeing my baby love veggies is good for my real-food mama's heart.  You *love* to eat, and have a big appetite--which isn't surprising since you're nearly 25 pounds!

You have an unusually deep voice for a baby, and your vocabulary consists of: mama, dada, bye ("bah"), night-night ("nigh-nigh"), and various sounds that clearly have strong meaning.

It has been so wonderful to watch you grow and learn over the past year, Joshua. I am so very blessed to be your mama and so, so thankful that our gracious Lord saw fit to add you to our family. My prayer for you on your first birthday is that you will love the Lord with all your heart and serve Him with all your days. May you grow up into a godly man fit to lead a wife and raise another generation faithfully.

I love you, my sweet, sweet boy. Happy birthday!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Parting thoughts

I've been blogging to some degree for about 10 years (how crazy is that?). As a young teen, I had a little blog I used as a journal. As an adult I started trying to grow a blog that would reach larger audiences and perhaps be an income-stream for my family. That's when this blog was born.

About a month ago (on May 13), my husband drove me three hours to North Carolina to see my precious Grandma, who was in a coma after having two strokes and a bleed in her brain. She was being kept alive on life support until we could gather around her bedside to say, "Goodbye."

The common theme as we reminisced about her life and planned her funeral service was the great impact she had on each of us. She lived out her entire life serving her family. She was a homemaker from the time she was 15 when she and my grandfather got married until she died at the age of 84. She raised four children who gave her 7 grandchildren, who have brought a dozen great grandchildren into the world so far--and up until her dying day, she was intimately involved in the details of our lives. She was always available to talk and encourage, to give wise counsel when we needed it. And she always pointed us to Christ.

And the reason she was able to be the influence she was in each of our lives was that she devoted her life to being a godly example and building solid relationships with her children that lasted into their adulthood and poured into the lives of their children.

And me? I want to be like Grandma. I want to pour my life into my family now in such a way that when my children (and Lord-willing, grandchildren and great grandchildren) are planning my funeral, they will be thanking God for the life I lived and the godly influence I had in their lives. These years with my children are flying, and I won't have them to re-live.

My days are so full. I have a sweet baby to cuddle and nurse, a little girl who's about to start Kindergarten (at home) and loves for me to play princess with her, and a precious boy who loves anything with wheels and really loves to be wherever mama is. I have an amazing husband with a growing business and a campaign for public office. I have family near-by (and family I wish was near-by) and an incredible church family who I want to minister to as best as I can. And I'm still trying to finish school. My house could use more of my attention than it gets, and I do have a job I work from home on a very part-time basis (which does contribute a enough income to our family that the mostly-minimal time investment is worth it for now).

I want to devote the best years of my life, every hour of every day, to the things that really matter most, or that make me more suited for the things that matter most (like exercising regularly so I am healthy enough to keep up with my kids!). I want to spend my time on the things that will be worth mentioning at a worship service celebrating my life one day. For some people, that does mean growing a successful blog for the sake of Christ's Kingdom. But for me, for now, it means unplugging more and being here. And that's fine.

Covenant Homemaking won't be going anywhere. I'm going to keep all the archives up. But I think for now, I'm going to use this space as more of a way to journal what's going on in my sweet little family so I don't forget it all! And so they can see it one day if they want to. If you want to stick around and read it, you're more than welcome to. And if you don't, I certainly won't be offended.

Thank you for being readers here over the years. You have been a blessing to me, and I hope you have been blessed as well!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Menu Plan, March 18-24

We had an absolutely beautiful day on Saturday. It was sunny and about 70 degrees out the bulk of the day. It was a short but lovely taste of Spring. Today it's back to freezing rain...but I know Spring is right around the corner and my Florida-raised self can't *wait* for some more sunshine.

I'm really looking forward to a week mostly at home. Unless something changes, I think I'll only be gone for part of one day this week (besides Sunday). I don't know about y'all, but having children has totally turned me into a homebody. I used to try to get out every chance I could, but these days? A quiet day at home is usually my cup of tea. :)

Here's what I have on the menu:

Breakfasts: oatmeal, scrambled eggs, yogurt, and/or fruit; baked oatmeal (for Saturday and we'll have the leftovers on Sunday)

Rice and beans (with toppings), salad
Steak tacos, fruit salad
Sausage, bean, and greens soup (from he Everything Beans Book); grilled cheese
BBQ Meatballs, mashed potatoes, salad
Italian roast beef over pasta, salad
Sourdough pizza, salad
Dinner at the farm

What are y'all fixing this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Katie's Fourth Birthday Letter

Dear Katie,

I know I say this every year, but I just can't believe another year of being your mama has come and gone. If three seemed like a "big girl" age to me, how much more four does! Though we're planning to home school you, in just one short year, most of your peers will have already started going to school--that thought is so incredible to me! It still just doesn't seem like it's been that long since I first laid eyes on you.

Three was probably our most challenging year thus far as your parents. As your intellectual abilities have grown, your very strong will has showed itself in ways we'd rather it not. We know that as your grow and mature and come to genuine faith in Christ your strong will will be an asset to you and to Christ's Kingdom. So for now, we do our best to train you and pray that the Lord will bless our efforts with the outcome we so desire.

Strong-willed though you are, you add so much joy and sweetness (and all things pink and girly) to our lives. You love to spend time with mommy and daddy, and I think Benjamin is your best friend. You two play so well together, which is such a blessing to me--and has definitely made it easier for me to adjust to life with three little ones. You also love to help with Joshua and hold him. He loves the attention he gets from you and Benjamin.

Typical of little girls your age, you are totally into all things girly and princess. You spend a good chunk of your play time everyday twirling around the house in your princess costume, playing tea party and dolls. Benjamin is usually your willing prince, but sometimes he protests. You love wearing skirts and dresses and have also decided of your own accord that pants are for boys.

Thanks, I think, in large part to your Aunt Hannah's influence, you love art. She gave you an art set for your birthday and you make lovely creations every day. Mrs. Raymond [our pastor's wife] has also done an art class with you and you lovelovelove going to that. In another display of your artsiness, you gave yourself not one, but two haircuts this year (on the same day). Thankfully Miss Laura was able to make it presentable!

You are getting old enough that you don't always love doing chores anymore, but we are working with you to be diligent even when you don't love what you're doing. You are learning to pick up your toys, and you are good at helping empty the dishwasher. You also have a growing fascination with cooking and I'm looking forward to teaching you more in the kitchen over the coming months.

I love watching you learn. Your vocabulary grows daily and you're doing great working your way through the children's catechism. Your witty comments give us a daily dose of humor. I think you'll be learning how to read soon, and I'm looking forward to starting you with Kindergarten curriculum once you are a good reader. As the days go by, you seem to be absorbing more and more of what we teach you about the Scriptures and I'm so thankful our efforts seem to be paying off.

More than anything else I wish for you, it is my daily prayer that God will grant you repentance and faith early in life and that you will grow up serving Him faithfully all your days.

My sweet little girl, I am so thankful the Lord gave you to us. You add so much to our lives and I love you so much.

Happy birthday, Katie Lee!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Goals for 2013: March Update

March already. What?!

I made some progress on my goals in February, but not as much as I was hoping to on some of them. It was a busy month--the children--all three of them--got sick for a whole week which definitely threw my groove off. Honestly, though? It was partly lack of discipline and I intend to turn that around in the coming weeks, by God's grace.

Here's where I was at the end of February:
::Read through the Bible I am 8 days behind
::Memorize Psalm 119 I have memorized through verse 20; was hoping to be at verse 30 this month
::Lose my remaining baby weight plus 14 pounds by the end of OctoberI started with 30 pounds to go. After February, I have 22 pounds left. I have been doing Weight Watchers Online and exercising three times a week with Postnatal Boot Camp.
::Upload/organize photos each month and make a family photo book at the end of the year No progress to report here
::Go through 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life each quarter Haven't done this yet--need to start this week!
::Complete Family Herbalist Course, begin Certified Holistic Wellness Professional course I made progress here.
::Launch my new website (more soon!) I have content ready and am waiting on parts of the design, which I may not have until April.
::Have bi-monthly at-home "dates" with Ben Only one in February.
::Have a monthly "business meeting" with Ben Missed it this month
::Enter the Trinity Foundation essay contestNothing here yet.
::Start Kindergarten with Katie "School time" still consists of catechism and the Bible song. I think I've picked out a phonics curriculum--just need to order it.
::Get through Question 75 with Katie in the catechism We have made some progress here.
::Teach Benjamin 10 catechism questions. He is on Question 3
::Work with Katie and Benjamin to learn one chore each quarter. I changed this from one new chore each month for Katie to one quarterly for each of them. We weren't consistent enough here in February and I'm hoping they'll have toy pick-up down by the end of this month. 

I guess some progress is better than none--here's hoping for a better month this month. :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Goals for This Week

It's a goal 

Slowly but surely, by making weekly goals I've been chipping away at my goals for this year. I do so much better with them when I post them here for the whole world to see--as I learned in February when I was away from my blog. ;)

Here are my goals for this week:

::Read 14 days of my Bible reading plan (two days per day to catch up)
::Memorize Psalm 119:21-28
::Do Postnatal Boot Camp three times (I'm finishing up Week 7 and starting Week 8!)
::Begin 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

::Have our March business meeting

::Sing Books of the Bible song and review catechism daily

::Do tidy-up with the children daily
::Take at least one photo

::Finish up Units 17 and 18 of Family Herbalist Course

::Write next week's posts for Covenant Homemaking

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Menu Plan, March 10-16

I'm back! A little later than I initially planned because of some time we were able to spend with my parents this past week. What a blessing it was! I was sorry to see them head out today.

I always feel like I'm "re-entering" real life after my mama goes home because I get used to having her help with my everyday tasks while she's around. Here's hoping the week goes smoothly!

Here's what we're planning to eat this week:

Breakfasts (all served with yogurt and/or fruit):
Scrambled eggs with sourdough toast or breakfast potatoes
Baked Oatmeal

Dinners (all served with salad):
Leftover Potato Soup (with sausage-seasoned beef instead of ham)
Roasted chicken drumsticks, baked sweet potatoes, green beans
Chicken Broccoli Rice casserole
BBQ Meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans
Rice and beans with all the "fixings" (homemade salsa, sour cream, sauteed onions, etc.)
Sourdough pizza
Fellowship meal at church (I'm thinking I'll bring chili)

What are y'all making this week? If you need some inspiration, be sure to head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A break

I love these sweeties *so* much!
It has been busy around here lately, trying to get into the swing of things now that I'm emerging from the newborn daze. Add to that a broken washing machine, a broken oven (both of which are fixed now, thankfully!), a house full of sick children (all three), a mama who feels like she's coming down with whatever yuck the kiddos have, getting ready to go out of town for a family wedding, AND getting ready to launch a new site next month--phew!

I have just decided that rather than half-hearted blogging in the midst of the crazy, I'm going to take the rest of the month off 'officially'. During the next couple weeks, I'm going to try to take some time to write ahead, work on my new site, and make some plans for both blogs for the coming months. 

"See" you all soon!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

55 Things I Love About My Dad

I have been so very blessed with a godly father who is not only my dad, but one of my dearest friends. Tomorrow is his 55th birthday. To honor him on his special day, here are 55 things I love about him (in no specific order).

  1. His faithfulness to Christ. 
  2. After over 25 years of marriage, he still adores his bride, my mama.
  3. The way he laughs ("HA!").
  4. He talks to my babies on the phone. 
  5. He loves the Church. 
  6. His generosity.  
  7. He plays in the mud with his grandchildren. 
  8. He gave me to an amazing husband. 
  9. Growing up, he allowed space for me to become me while still guiding and protecting me. 
  10. He's practical. 
  11. His determination. 
  12. He's handsome. 
  13. He's smart.
  14. He put up with me (really, that's saying something!). 
  15. He is a good provider. 
  16. He is diligent. 
  17. He's thoughtful. 
  18. He took me golfing even though I was awful not very good. 
  19. He was always there for me (and still is).
  20. He is wise. 
  21. He's faithful in evangelism. 
  22. He's fun to be around. 
  23. He's humble. 
  24. He's a great writer.
  25. He is frugal.  
  26. He drives Volvos. 
  27. His excellent leadership. 
  28. He prayed for me when I was apathetic towards Christ and didn't give up on me.
  29. He taught me how to share the gospel with the lost.
  30. He's a great boss (I work for his company from home).
  31. He doesn't waste his time.
  32. He is diligent in his study of Scripture.
  33. He says what people need to hear even when they don't want to hear it.
  34. He's quick to apologize when he wrongs someone.
  35. He gets along well with my husband.
  36. He respects Ben's authority in my life.
  37. I never for a moment in my entire life doubted his love for me.
  38. He provided me with excellent educational opportunities and chances to pursue my interests and grow my talents.
  39. He submits to authority in his life.
  40. He made me focus on my studies when my head was in the clouds during my courtship with Ben.
  41. He taught me the value of studying something because it's good to always be learning--even if you won't necessarily use the knowledge (think: advanced math classes).
  42. He isn't disappointed in who I've become even though he probably never imagined I'd get married at 18 and have three children by the time most of my peers were finishing college.
  43. Dad is a good teacher.
  44. He's a great radio show host.
  45. He has good taste.
  46. He taught me how to drive.
  47. He tried to teach me how to ride a bike (a story for another day... *grin*).
  48. He is friends with my in-laws (so thankful our families enjoy each other's company!)
  49. He lets Mom come see me even though he misses her while she's gone.
  50. He makes time for me when I call (unless he absolutely can't).
  51. He is incredibly hospitable.
  52. He doesn't think I'm quack-y when I talk about natural health.
  53. He loves our [extended] family and makes every effort to spend time with them.
  54. He is wonderful with my children.
  55. He willingly changes his mind when he is convinced by Scripture.
See? He's an amazing guy, and I am so very blessed to be his daughter.

Happy birthday, Dad! I love you!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Goals for 2013, February Update

I can't believe it's already February! I am excited about the progress I've been able to make this month. Making weekly goals and working on them each day makes such a big difference.

Here's where I am after January:
::Read through the BibleI have stayed caught up with this.
::Memorize Psalm 119I am on track here (should finish up memorizing verses 13-16 today).
::Lose my remaining baby weight plus 14 pounds by the end of OctoberI started with 30 pounds to go. After January, I have 25 pounds left. I have been doing Weight Watchers Online and exercising three times a week with Postnatal Boot Camp.
::Upload/organize photos each month and make a family photo book at the end of the yearI was a lot better about taking photos this month! I plan to upload and organize January's photos tomorrow while we're hanging out at the farm.
::Go through 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life each quarterHaven't done this yet.
::Complete Family Herbalist Course, begin Certified Holistic Wellness Professional courseI spent this month reviewing as I had taken a few months off around Joshua's birth. My review is completed and I'll be starting on new material this week.
::Launch my new website (more soon!)I've been working on the design as well as getting posts in the queue. I am hoping to launch it this month.
::Have bi-monthly at-home "dates" with BenDid this in January.
::Have a monthly "business meeting" with Ben Did this in January.
::Enter the Trinity Foundation essay contestNothing here yet.
::Start Kindergarten with KatieI have been doing "school time" every week day with Katie. Right now it consists of singing the Books of the Bible song and reviewing catechism after devotions. This week I'm going to try to start her with reading lessons and see how she does.
::Get through Question 75 with Katie in the catechismWe are working on 34 & 35.
::Teach Benjamin 10 catechism questionsHe has Question 1 down and is pretty close to having Question 2.
::Work with Katie to learn one new chore each month::Work with Benjamin to learn one new chore each quarterIn January, I worked with both children on picking up their toys each day. I think we're going to give it another month before adding anything new.
How are y'all doing on your goals for this year?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Of first kisses

Our wedding day
By God's grace, Ben is the only man I've ever kissed. When Ben and I shared our first kiss, we were in a courtship with the blessing of both of our families and had long known we would spend the rest of our lives together. I am so thankful the only man whose lips mine have ever met is the man I am covenanted to 'til death parts us.

There is a general attitude among young people today, even many Christians, that kissing is not a big deal.

I think back to the first time Ben and I held hands, the first time Ben kissed me on the cheek, and that awkward first real kiss (the first for both of us). I am so thankful these are memories we share, and that years later these are still meaningful expressions of our love for each other--expressions neither of us has shared with anyone else.

In a culture that tries its hardest to rob children of their innocence so early in life, a culture that glorifies pre-marital s*x and balks at the sacredness of intimacy, I'd like to encourage you mamas to teach your children to cherish and save even "lesser" forms of physical intimacy. And if there are any single young ladies reading here, I'd like to encourage you, too. It may not be easy to wait when everyone everywhere is doing it differently, but your husband, wherever he may be and whenever you may meet him, is worth waiting for.

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying I think you're an awful person if you did things differently than we did. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Menu Plan, January 28-February 3

We have had some cold (at least for me) weather lately. I am so looking forward to a few warmer days this week! Last week was a busy week. Besides a day away from the house tomorrow (picking up a side of grassfed beef which we're splitting with family!), this week is looking like it will be a little more normal.

Here's what I'm planning in the kitchen:

::Fried eggs with breakfast potatoes or whole wheat sourdough toast, fruit
::Breakfast casserole, fruit

::Whole wheat sourdough cheese pizza, salad
::Dinner with family
::Pepper Jack & Green Chile tacos, fruit
::Quinoa Greek Salad (Ben will be out with some friends--having a girls' night with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law)
::Filets with pepper cream sauce, potatoes, salad
::Sunday dinner with family at the farm

We're having leftovers or snacks for lunch every day except tomorrow when we'll be having lunch with some friends at their house.

What are y'all cooking this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Goals for This Week (January 28)

It's a goal 

Last week was kind of a big fat flop. Our pipes were frozen Wednesday and Friday and I was gone all day Saturday. I can only check one goal off of my list from last week. I love the fresh start a new week brings--and I'm super thankful I'll have some help tomorrow to make it through the massive mountain of clean laundry I have.

Last week's goals:
Personal:::Stay caught up on Bible reading
::Memorize Psalm 119:13-16
::Do Postnatal Boot Camp, Week 2 three times
Parenting:::Take photos at least 6 days
::Do chore chart daily (we already missed yesterday, but here's hoping for a smooth rest-of-the-week)
::Continue reviewing Books of the Bible song and catechism daily (see this post for information about the catechism we use)
Household:::Choose a cleaning project daily [vacuum, dust, bathrooms, etc.] (missed yesterday)
Education:::Finish reviewing Unit 15 of Family Herbalist Course
Work/Blog:::Work 7 1/2 hours for my work-at-home job
::Post 4 times here
::Write 3 posts for my new blog (Hint: It's a blog about natural health!)

With that, here are this week's goals (many of them repeated from last week):

::Stay caught up on Bible reading
::Memorize Psalm 119:13-16
::Do Postnatal Boot Camp, Week 3 three times
::Finish reviewing Units 15 and 16 of Family Herbalist Course

::One at-home date (done already! Yay for sleeping babies, raw milk hot chocolate, and great conversation)

::Take photos at least 6 days
::Go through chore chart daily
::Books of the Bible song, catechism every weekday

::Do one cleaning project per day
::Upload/organize January photos

::Work 7 1/2 hours for my at-home job
::Write 3 posts to save in the queue for my new blog
::Post at least 3 times here

I know a lot of people hate Mondays. I love them. What about you?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Goals for the Week (January 21)

It's a goal 

Last week's goals:Personal:
::Stay caught up on Bible reading::Memorize Psalm 119:9-12, continue reviewing 1-8::Do Postnatal Boot Camp, Week 1 three times
::Have one at-home date night (complete with three sleeping children)
::Take at least one photo each day, Monday-Saturday {missed one day}::Sing Books of the Bible song and review catechism daily
::Go through Katie's chore chart with her every day (yes, this helps me too--ha!)
::Finish reviewing Units 14 & 15 of Family Herbalist Course {Only made it halfway through Unit 15}
::Get 6 new posts onto my new site (write three new, move three over) {Only did 4}
::Post 4 times on Covenant Homemaking::Work 10 hours for my work-at-home job {Only did about 7}
This week's goals:

::Stay caught up on Bible reading
::Memorize Psalm 119:13-16
::Do Postnatal Boot Camp, Week 2 three times

::Take photos at least 6 days
::Do chore chart daily (we already missed yesterday, but here's hoping for a smooth rest-of-the-week)
::Continue reviewing Books of the Bible song and catechism daily (see this post for information about the catechism we use)

::Choose a cleaning project daily [vacuum, dust, bathrooms, etc.] (missed yesterday)

::Finish reviewing Unit 15 of Family Herbalist Course

::Work 7 1/2 hours for my work-at-home job
::Post 4 times here
::Write 3 posts for my new blog (Hint: It's a blog about natural health!)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Menu Plan, January 21-27

So, this week started off with a somewhat lazy Monday (the children were all in bed until almost 9:30!), so today sort of feels like Monday even though it's not.

Better late than never, here's my menu plan for the week.

Scrambled eggs with fruit, and sourdough toast or breakfast potatoes
Easy Breakfast Casserole, fruit, toast

Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, salad
Out (for a business meeting)
Pepper Jack and Green Chile Tacos (on sourdough tortillas), pineapple
Chicken noodle soup, salad, sourdough bread
Sourdough pizza, salad
Dinner with family at the farm

Lunches are leftovers every day. This simplifies my life tremendously!

In other menu planning news, we're splitting a side of beef with Ben's family and we'll be picking it up next week. I am so looking forward to re-stocking our freezer with delicious, local grass-fed beef (for only $3/lb!).

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, January 18, 2013

These days aren't mine

There are things I know but still need to be often reminded of.

Our church has a prayer meeting every Wednesday night. I used to always go, but since Joshua was born I typically stay home and have some quiet, alone time to rest (with Joshua, of course). It's a time I look forward to every week.

Last Wednesday, a certain 3 year-old woke up from her nap in an awful mood. She didn't want to eat dinner or change her clothes and there was no convincing her to snap out of it, even when Daddy threatened to leave her home. When Ben and Benjamin headed out the door without Katie, she wasn't the only one who felt like crying.

I was looking forward to *my* quiet evening and instead I was stuck with a grumpy preschooler. 

You know what? Katie and I had a lovely evening together. She calmed down, ate some dinner, watched a little DVD (and I still managed to fit in some of my "quiet evening" stuff) and we cleaned up her room together before ending the night with stories, and snuggles, and kisses.

After I tucked in my sweet girl, I couldn't help but be struck with the reality that I have carefully laid out plans (most of the time!) but the Lord can cause them to change whenever He sees fit. And it's always for our good and His glory.

I may not have had my cherished quiet, alone time last week, but I'm so thankful to have been reminded once again that my days aren't really mine at all. They are His.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Goals for This Week

It's a goal 

As soon as we got home last week, I made out a list of goals hoping to start chipping away at my goals for this year. I managed to complete all but one of the ten goals I wrote out. It was so encouraging to see progress that I took some time Saturday to make out a list of goals for this week.

I've been making a to-do list every day of no more than 8 items, consulting my weekly goals as I make it. This is a great system for me to make sure I'm focusing on things that matter to our family in the long-term as I go about my days at home with my littles.

Here are my goals for this week:

::Stay caught up on Bible reading
::Memorize Psalm 119:9-12, continue reviewing 1-8
::Do Postnatal Boot Camp, Week 1 three times

::Have one at-home date night (complete with three sleeping children)

::Take at least one photo each day, Monday-Saturday
::Sing Books of the Bible song and review catechism daily

::Go through Katie's chore chart with her every day (yes, this helps me too--ha!)

::Finish reviewing Units 14 & 15 of Family Herbalist Course

::Get 6 new posts onto my new site (write three new, move three over)
::Post 4 times on Covenant Homemaking
::Work 10 hours for my work-at-home job

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Menu Plan, January 14-20

I am excited to be entering our first full week home from vacation. It's so nice to start fresh--and with a plan! My children all napped at the same time today (boys slept, Katie played in her bed), so that provided some nice refreshment for me even though I worked at the computer. The quiet mid-day sure does wonders for my state of mind. :)

We are getting ready to make a bulk meat purchase in the next couple of weeks, so I tried to plan our meals mostly around what we had on hand already to save some money. I just bought fresh produce and dairy to round out the pantry/freezer stash.

To simplify my life a bit, I'm planning for leftovers every day for lunch. 

Here's what I came up with for the week:

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Spinach Rice Casserole (made with brown rice and some chicken thrown in), salad, glazed carrots 

Breakfast: Easy Breakfast Casserole; w/w sourdough toast; fruit
Dinner: Cheddar Cheese Soup with Broccoli, Zucchini, and Carrots; salad; w/w sourdough bread

Breakfast: Leftovers from Tuesday morning
Dinner: Classic Beef Pot Roast (made with a lovely roast my Aunt gave us for Christmas!), salad

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Dinner out to celebrate the wedding of some friends

Breakfast: Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, fruit
Dinner: Slow cooker chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, salad

Breakfast: Easy Breakfast CasseroleHashbrowns, fruit
Dinner: Chicken tacos (from leftover chicken) on w/w sourdough tortillas, rice and beans, fruit

Breakfast: Leftover casserole, w/w sourdough toast, fruit
Dinner: Sunday dinner with family at the farm

Need more inspiration? Be sure to head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Benjamin's 2nd Birthday Letter

The only decent picture I got on your birthday--you're such a  busy boy!

Dear Benjamin,

I always get reflective around my babies' birthdays. As I write this birthday letter, I can't help but think back to that December night (well, technically early in the morning--1:48am)  we welcomed you into the world with a perfectly beautiful, peaceful home birth. Labor was rough, but I think back to your birth with such incredible fondness. And I can't believe it's already been two years.

You have grown up so much since your last birthday. You talk a lot--perhaps even more than your big sister did when she was 2 (which is really saying something). I've lost track of how many words you know, but I would guess it's at least 200 and your sentences are often 5-6 words long (more often, though, 3-4 words).

You weaned at 17 months, when I was pregnant with Joshua. Just like it did with your sister, weaning made me sad. You adored nursing and kept going until I had absolutely nothing left. The process wasn't traumatic at all, but the first couple of months after we finished, you would frequently pat my chest and say, "All gone?"

It has been so neat to watch you become a big brother. You're still learning to be gentle, but you love Joshua so much--and from the little grins he gives when you give him attention, he loves you too. I'm sure one day before too long you all will become the best of friends.

You also play really well with Katie. It has been so fun for me to watch your friendship with her grow over the past few months. The bulk of your days are spent together, and you get along so well most of the time. She plays cars with you (which is a good thing since you love playing cars and easily spend a couple hours each day on this one activity), you play dolls/stuffed animals with her--it works out wonderfully. The time you spend together is a blessing for the two of you and for your mommy!

You are such a sweet, easy-going little boy. You are sensitive and [almost] always eager to please. You obey well most of the time and don't require much in the way of discipline yet (though you certainly have your less lovely moments!). Despite your laid-back personality, you are a pretty rough-and-tumble fellow and definitely "all boy." It's fun to watch how different you are from Katie in that regard.

There was a time when I wasn't sure what I would do with a little boy of my very own. Two years into it, I can say I absolutely love being your mama, my sweet little man. Your sweet chubby face and adorable smile and personality make my world a more beautiful place. The fact that you look so much like your Grandpa makes me smile too. I am so, so thankful the Lord gave you to me, Benjamin.

Watching you grow, I can't help but think about the reality that one day I will look [up!] at you and see a big man instead of my little boy. Your soft, chubby cheeks will be stubbly, your toddler hands those of a working man, and your problems bigger than I can solve with a kiss.

On your second birthday, my prayer for you is the same as it has been since the moment I knew you were growing in my belly. I long for the Lord to grant you faith in Christ as a child and pray that He would cause you to grow into a godly man who pours out his life in faithful service to Christ.

I love you more than I can say, my sweet firstborn son.