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Intentionally Simple http://intentionallysimple.com Living an intentionally simple life! Choosing to live green, minimal and debt free while raising a family and living in a small home! Thu, 24 Aug 2017 04:26:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Scripture Memorization Resources for Children http://intentionallysimple.com/scripture-memorization-resources-for-children/ http://intentionallysimple.com/scripture-memorization-resources-for-children/#comments Thu, 24 Aug 2017 04:26:50 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14302

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Scripture Memory is such an important part of a Christian’s life. As Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Hiding the word in our hearts is such a treasure.

Teaching children, even very young children, can be fairly simple. Children love songs and stories and repetition and tend to soak up things like a sponge!

Here are a few of our favorite scripture memorization resources that we’ve used with our children.

Seeds Family Worship

Seeds Family Worship songs are amazing! The songs are scripture based and are really good. There are children singing the songs but they’re not childish and annoying like some Christian themed children’s songs can be. I actually love listening to these along with my children.

We purchased a pack of the first 7 CDs several years ago and still love them (they offer a pack of 10 now, it may seem a bit pricey but they’re really worth every penny!) They’re in my van and we frequently listen to them while driving. They have released more products over the years that I’m not familiar with but I’m sure anything you choose from them will be amazing.

AWANA

We started taking our children to AWANA at a local Baptist church since our church does not offer AWANA. We had not participated in AWANA as children but had heard great things about the program.

Paxton was 4 at the time and started in the Cubbies program (preschool/preK age children) and Weston started out in Puggles (for toddlers). Both boys loved it from the beginning. We’ve started our 4th year of AWANA at the same church. Cecilia is now in Cubbies and Paxton and Weston are in Sparks together which is the class for Kindergarten through Second Grade.

Our boys have learned a lot of scripture and Bible truths from AWANA, have made new friends and had a lot of fun. We’re so thankful for a church who welcomes our children and for amazing leaders who genuinely care for and love to teach our children.

Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible

The Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible is similar to other Bibles but with some resources that help with scripture memory. There are 100 verses which are featured throughout the scriptures and referred to as the Core 100.

Each ‘Core 100’ page has the core verse written out in the NLT, NIV and KJV versions as well as an ‘Explore & Apply’ section. There also is a ‘Digging Deeper’ section at the back of the text that has extra resources and questions to go along with each of the 100 core verses.

The back of the Bible features a Core 100 Verse Checklist to help keep track of verses memorized. There is also a Challenge Verse Checklist so you can keep track of memorizing the verses once the core verses are hidden in your heart.

One of my favorite features of this Bible is that there are 100 Scripture memory songs that you will have access to with a unique download copy in each Bible! Songs are just a fun way to memorize scripture and I like having more songs in addition to our Seeds songs.

We haven’t dived into this Bible and worked through the Core 100 yet but it is going to be an amazing scripture memory resource in the future. And, in the meantime, we’ll be learning the scriptures through song!

 

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network. I am not affiliated, associated with or sponsored by Seeds Family Worship or AWANA, those are just resources we use and want to share! This post does contain affiliate links which help support this site.

 

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Laura’s Birth Story http://intentionallysimple.com/lauras-birth-story/ http://intentionallysimple.com/lauras-birth-story/#comments Sat, 12 Aug 2017 18:48:34 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14278

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Our fourth baby’s birth and the days leading up to it will always be remembered. After years of looking for a few acres of land, we finally found a property and made an offer with less than 2 months until my May 21st due date. We put our home on the market, had an offer within a week and started to prepare for closing on both properties.

On May 2 (only 19 days away from my due date), we closed on both houses and moved into our new home. The days leading up to the closing date were full of hope that I just wouldn’t go into labor early (my previous 2 babies had arrived 9 and 11 days early!) May 2 came and went thankfully with no baby.

In the next few days, I was able to get our bedroom, kitchen, the living room and the kids rooms organized and felt somewhat settled.

On May 7, I was 38 weeks pregnant and anticipating that baby could come at any time! Cecilia was born at 38 weeks, 3 days and Weston was born at 38 weeks, 5 days so I figured I was probably getting close.

We didn’t find out the gender this time (we did with both boys but not Cecilia). We were all kind of hoping for a baby girl so Cecilia would have a sister but would have been thrilled with a baby boy too! I really had no feelings regarding gender since this pregnancy was so similar to all of the others (minus the horrible hip and pubic pain I had with Cecilia’s pregnancy).

A week after moving, on May 9, my midwife, Michelle, had my home visit scheduled (it was scheduled so late since we were in a new house). She had to cancel due to another birth. I had been waiting for the home visit to feel fully ready to go into labor.

On Wednesday, May 10, I had a check up with Michelle. I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant (Cecilia was born at 38w3d). At the checkup, Michelle told me that she had driven by my house and knew exactly where it was so a home visit wasn’t necessary. That made me feel better, knowing that she knew where to go when the time came.

I started having contractions on the way to my check up Wednesday morning and had them off and on throughout the day but they were not regular or unmanageable.

I had contractions about every hour that night and thought things were going to start picking up and that we’d have a baby but I woke up on Thursday, May 11 still pregnant! When John David woke up, I told him I was up about every hour during the night with contractions so he went into work late that morning and I was able to sleep until 10:30. When I finally got out of bed, there was some blood tinged mucus which was somewhat encouraging knowing that those contractions were probably doing something.

I was very tired all day and still having contractions about every hour or so. These contractions were different than any of my previous labor contractions. They would start out low in the abdomen and work their way up instead of starting high and working down. I took a long nap and rested in bed that afternoon and let John David know that I wasn’t feeling well. We got the kids in bed around 9:30 and I sat on the couch and rested for a bit. Nights had been hard (trouble getting comfortable and sleeping) and I wasn’t quite ready to get in bed and try to sleep while having contractions.

Around 10:30, we went to bed and the contractions started up as soon and I laid down. I got up, went to the bathroom and came back to lie down but never was able to sleep. I did this every 10-15 minutes for about 2 hours before I was completely uncomfortable lying down and needed to start trying other positions. At 1:00, I downloaded a contraction timer app and started timing contractions, hoping to start to see a pattern. There was a pattern – they were about 10 minutes apart at this point.

I sat on my birth ball and worked my hips for awhile since I labored the entire time with Cecilia on the ball (and it was wonderful). The ball was not providing any relief so I stood up for awhile and went back to the ball. I probably labored about 2 hours while John David continued to sleep. I pulled out the large flannel back tablecloth (which my midwife recommends for keeping floors clean) and put it on the floor because I kept hoping contractions were going to get closer together and things would start happening.

I started dealing with back labor around 3 and woke John David up at this point because I was feeling very discouraged since my contractions were still 10 minutes apart and painful. (Contractions with both Weston and Cecilia were not painful at all to me, so this was new.) I labored on my hands and knees, on the ball, leaning against the ball, standing and swaying my hips and nothing was providing back labor relief. At this point, I was pretty sure that the baby was in a bad position because of the back labor and the fact that I wasn’t making any progress with contraction spacing after 2 hours of timing.

I was so confused as to whether I was even in labor. With my previous births, contractions have fairly quickly gone from 10 minutes to 8, to 6 and so on. We went to the hospital with Weston and called Michelle with Cecilia when they were about 5 minutes apart.  John David and I talked about calling Michelle but I didn’t want to wake her up for nothing.

After laboring through intense back contractions, I was very discouraged (I even told John David that I just wanted to go to the hospital and get an epidural!) I asked him to run some warm bath water in hopes that the tub would provide some relief.

By the time I got into the tub, the contractions were averaging 7 minutes apart so John David texted Michelle at 4:42 to let her know we thought something might be happening and that contractions were averaging 7 minutes apart and that I was getting into the tub. She texted back that the tub should help to speed things up (and I was hoping that would happen!) The warm water felt so good and the first few contractions in the tub were more comfortable but then the back labor started up again and the contractions were averaging 8-10 minutes apart which means they actually had slowed since getting into the tub.  At this point, I thought I might be dealing with prodromal labor because I had been laboring over 6 hours with very little progress – I thought I should have had a baby in my arms by this point if I was really in labor! (All 3 of my previous labors had been fairly fast, Paxton was born 5 hours from the time my water was broken, Weston’s was born less than 3 hours from waking up with contractions about 8 minutes apart and Cecilia’s was about 5 hours from the time my contractions started coming less than 8 minutes apart.)

John David sat with me through several contractions and since nothing was changing, he went back to bed and I stayed in the tub. (And, no, this didn’t bother me, I don’t like to be touched at all during labor so him going back to bed was no big deal, especially since we thought it was prodromal labor or just the very early stages.)

I got out of the tub around 6:00, the sun had risen and I was very discouraged. The water was cold and my back labor was not letting up so I knew I needed to try some other positions to try to get baby in an optimal position. I had the big flannel back tablecloth in the bedroom floor so I got down on hands and knees and rocked back and forth for a few contractions, then I leaned up against the ball for a few minutes and tried sitting on it. I was still timing contractions and they were ranging from 7-9 minutes apart. I started to feel like I needed to poo (which in hind sight should have been a sign but I had been a little gassy in the tub and with contractions ranging from 7-9 minutes apart, I was pretty sure it wasn’t pressure from the baby.)

Around 6:45, I sat on the toilet and I was still timing contractions which were about 7 minutes apart. John David was still sleeping at this point. I tried to go and felt myself really opening up and started to think that I might be getting close to delivery (which didn’t make sense because of the contraction pattern).

I started to notice a lot of mucus (or bloody show) which made me realize that the baby was probably getting close. I started to feel pressure and started vocalizing through contractions which woke John David up. He told me I needed to get off the toilet because it’s not good to sit there too long. Then I had another contraction and I think he realized what was happening. I think at this point, he texted Michelle (my phone says it was 6:56).

He ran and moved the tablecloth and under pads into the bathroom and I asked him if he saw anything and he said he didn’t. I couldn’t feel the baby’s head with my hands, nor did I feel like the baby had descended so I didn’t think I was about to have a baby.

He told me I had to get off of the toilet but I couldn’t move. He helped me get off and my water breaks as I’m getting up (into the toilet!) I drop down on all fours and start pushing (and yelling!) With the next contraction, I pushed baby’s head out. John David starts yelling “push, push, push” so I gently pushed but realized that I need to wait for another contraction before pushing to decrease my chances of tearing. With the next contraction, I pushed again and out she came, into her daddy’s arms and he tells me, “we have a baby girl” before I even get her in my arms. She was born at 6:59 am on Friday, May 12.

John David helps me sit down, puts our daughter on my chest and starts drying her off. I am completely in shock and crying (well, really bawling) at this point. Tears of joy for a daughter, that everything went well and that it was over which was such a relief after dealing with horrible back labor.

John David changed out the towels, covered us both up, put a hat on the baby’s head to keep her warm and propped a few pillows behind me (Michelle had given him instructions for what to do at our last appointment since I have a history of quick deliveries). I just laid in the floor with baby, waiting for Michelle to arrive and started nursing.

Michelle arrived around 25 minutes after the birth, delivered the placenta and had John David cut the cord. The baby had pooped into my hand while we were lying on the floor so John David took her and cleaned her off and wiped my hand off!

Michelle helped me into the herb bath and then put the baby in the bath to get her good and clean too.

By this time, Mary (Michelle’s assistant) had arrived and they helped me get dressed and into the bed while John David held the baby. All 3 kiddos were awake at this point (they had slept through everything) and anxiously awaiting to come into our room and meet the baby.

At some point while waiting, Paxton slipped a note under the door that said ‘let us n’!

Once I was settled in bed, they handed me our baby girl and let the kids come in and meet their new sister, Laura Kathryn. It was such a sweet moment, watching their excitement. All three were completely mesmerized by our tiny baby girl.

Once all of the kids held her, Michelle started the newborn exam. Laura weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces (just like Weston who was also born at 38 weeks, 5 days).

Michelle asked some questions about the delivery for her records and John David told her that the baby came out with her hands crossed and tucked up on her chest. Michelle said that is why my contractions stayed spaced so far the entire time and why I had back labor. So, it was somewhat encouraging to know that there was a reason the labor was so slow (as far as labors go for me.) It was 8 hours and 29 minutes from the time I tried to go to bed and started having contractions 10 minutes apart until the time she was born. And, up until probably 8 minutes before she was born, my contractions were still about 7 minutes apart. I went from 7 minutes apart (early labor) to delivery so this birth was technically considered a precipitous birth which I consider funny because it really was my longest and definitely my most discouraging labor.

And, thanks to pushing with the contractions and not being panicked, I had no tears and didn’t even feel like I had a baby which was amazing! My recovery was so, so easy.

Even though Michelle missed the delivery, this birth was so much like Cecilia’s – everything post delivery was exactly the same and I definitely appreciated the care that Michelle and Mary provided.

John David played a huge role in Laura’s birth! I probably would have delivered our baby in the toilet if it wasn’t for him. He knew exactly what to do and followed the instructions Michelle had given him. He kept such a clear head during the delivery, except for that 30 seconds when he was yelling ‘push, push, push’ because all he saw was a baby’s head and he had never delivered a baby before. Our kids said we should call him a ‘mid-husband’!

Once Michelle and Mary left around 9:30, we just took it easy all day. I stayed in bed with baby and John David took care of the kids and fed me. And, of course, I had little visitors in my room all day, wanting to look at their baby sister.

We’re so thankful for another complication free birth and a beautiful, healthy baby girl.

My other births:

First Baby – Paxton’s Birth Story 

Second Baby – Weston’s Birth Story

Third Baby – Cecilia’s Birth Story

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Our Brick Ranch Home Tour http://intentionallysimple.com/our-brick-ranch-home-tour-2/ http://intentionallysimple.com/our-brick-ranch-home-tour-2/#comments Mon, 08 May 2017 01:17:37 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14250

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It’s been very quiet around here due to major life changes. At the end of March, we found a home on a little over 5 acres (after looking for nearly 3 years) and decided it was time to try to sell. We put our home on the market on a Wednesday and had 2 offers by Sunday evening, April 2 (which just so happened to be the 6 year anniversary of moving into this home!) The timing was right and everything has worked out wonderfully. We closed on both houses on May 2 and now are settling into our new home. We’ve been in our new home 5 days and have gotten quite a bit done and are feeling ready for baby (I’m 38 weeks today!)

I wanted to share the way our home looked when we started packing a few weeks ago for my memories and so you can see how everything was laid out and organized.

The view of the front door in the living room.

The living room. One of my favorite parts of this room was the gallery wall. It was one of the first things I laid out when we moved in. Of course, it’s changed over the years and the pictures have been changed out since we added 2 babies in that time!

A close up of our bookshelf tucked into the corner. We love our books!

The view from the living room into the kitchen. About 18 months ago, we started our kitchen renovation, putting down new floors, knocking out some cabinets, putting in a new stove and refrigerator. We worked on it slowly (paying cash as we went) and it was officially finished 3 days before we moved! (We had ordered a section of countertop on December 31 and the order was delayed, then messed up, then reordered and delayed so we never really had the opportunity to enjoy the fully completed kitchen.)

A view of the whole kitchen post renovation (with the new ‘bar’ countertop installed). So many meals and memories were made in this room.

And, here’s a bit of a close up of the new countertop section! I hope the new owners love this kitchen.

The dining room and kitchen are one open room. This was the most used room in our entire home. We ate here, we did school work here (school books and supplies were stored in the white cabinet), it was our main entry (thus the coat rack along the wall) and it was my office area. We spent hours here each day!

Here’s the view from the living room looking down the hall. These floors were put down as part of our renovation. To the left is Cecilia’s room and straight ahead is the door to the boys room. The door at the end of the hall is to the master, the bathroom is on the right and the other doors were storage closets and the pantry.

Our full bathroom.

Another view of the bathroom.

This is Cecilia’s room, her sweet little toddler bed and play kitchen. I painted this room when we first moved into this house for Paxton’s nursery. It has been Paxton’s nursery, a guest room, Weston’s nursery, a play room, Cecilia’s nursery and most recently was set up as a shared room for Cecilia and our new baby.

Here’s the baby’s area of the room. Even though the baby never lived here, we were ready for baby and didn’t think our 1,300 square feet was too small for our 4 children! (The bunting and the C would have been replaced at some point but it was still Cecilia’s room so I just kept it up!)

A view of the closet in this room. It stored Cecilia’s toys, her nice clothes, extra bedding and blankets, her memory box and some diapers for baby.

The master bedroom.

Another angle of our master bedroom.

Here’s a peek into our closet. By most standards, it is a small closet but was perfect for us. We added some shelving for shoe storage and since we both have minimal wardrobes, we had more than enough space.

Our boys room. This was a very large room/playroom that served our kiddos quite well over the years.

Another view of the boys room. That dresser was purchased for Paxton’s first nursery before he was born and I made those curtains a few years ago.

John David custom built this closet shelving and it has been great for toy, game and clothing storage. A little bit of smart design can transform a small closet into a very useful space!

This little gallery wall was one of my favorites of the boys room. All of the artwork was painted by me or the boys which makes everything special!

That’s the tour of our sweet little brick ranch. We lived in 4 different homes in less than 5 years but lived here for 6 years. We made so many memories while living in this home. Paxton turned one here, we found out we were expecting our second baby a month after we moved in, Cecilia was born in our bedroom, all 3 of our kiddos learned to walk here, we started homeschooling here and we found out we were having our 4th baby here.

Now, we’re looking forward to making new memories in our new home and adding a new baby to our family. The house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. At just under 1,800 square feet, it gives us room to grow but it’s not too large of a home (we really wanted to stay under 2,000 square feet.) It feels absolutely massive to us right now! We have a little over 5 acres of land so we can have livestock here! We’re all pretty excited about living on our small farm. We already have honeybees and are looking forward to adding chickens very soon.

 

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A Day in My Life http://intentionallysimple.com/a-day-in-my-life-6/ http://intentionallysimple.com/a-day-in-my-life-6/#comments Mon, 03 Apr 2017 13:24:43 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14234

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For the past 5 years now, I have recorded a day in my life on a January day and shared about our everyday life. This year, I recorded our day in January once again but am just now sitting down to post about it over 2 months later!

Here’s a glimpse into my life as a stay at home, homeschooling mama of 3 (and one on the way!) on Wednesday, January 25, 2017:

8:30 – I’m awake and moving slow. At 23 weeks pregnant, I still need lots and lots of sleep!! I get out of bed, start a load of laundry and begin making breakfast.

9:30 – We’re all eating breakfast. Then we tidy up the table and begin our school work for the day.

10:30 – We’re in the midst of our school day. Paxton is working on his math worksheet while I read to him. While he is working, I take a quick break to move laundry from the washing machine to the dryer and begin another load.

11:30 – We’re reading Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride (a lesser known young female figure from the American Revolution). We spent the beginning of this semester reading anything we could get our hands on about the Revolutionary War period! This hour continues with more school work and of course breaking up the occasional fight between the younger two who don’t have any structured school work.

12:30 – Lunch time. Everybody is happily eating lunch. We have a little bit more school work to finish up, I check Paxton’s math and start tidying the kitchen.

1:30 – It’s story time! Oh, how I love reading to my little ones. We read a lot of books as part of our school work but there’s nothing quite like cozying up on the couch with story books that the kiddos pick out for me to read and snuggling – especially on a winter day!

2:30 – The boys are in their room resting (which means playing quietly with their toys or looking at books) while Cecilia and I are in bed. For several weeks, thanks to pregnancy tiredness, I’ve been taking an afternoon nap and she usually joins me. I’ll read a chapter or two in my books and then we snuggle up and nap.

3:30 – I’m awake from my afternoon nap and feeling rested to face the afternoon and evening while Cecilia is still snoozing.

4:30 – Starting dinner prep. Wednesdays are Awana night which means I have to have dinner ready earlier than our normal dinner time in order for the kiddos to have time to eat without being rushed before we leave around 6:10.

5:30 – Finishing up folding a load of laundry (I’m always doing laundry it seems) and getting ready to serve dinner to my crew.

And, from dinner time, the day got crazy and I stopped taking pictures! The kids have AWANA at 6:30 at a church in our community. It’s just 5 minutes from our home which is nice. Once I/we drop them off, we typically come home, clean up our dinner mess and relax for a little bit without kids. If John David is working late for whatever reason, I’ll just sit and read a book in silence!

I leave to pick them up around 7:45 and we’re all home by 8:15. The kiddos typically eat a snack after Awana and then we start our nighttime routine – get pajamas on, brush teeth, pick out books, cuddle up on the couch and read and then head to bed.

My days are not very exciting but how I love being able to stay home with my children, educate them at home and live such a wonderful life!

A Day in My Life from previous years:

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

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The Fourth is Coming http://intentionallysimple.com/the-fourth-is-coming/ http://intentionallysimple.com/the-fourth-is-coming/#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2017 23:28:54 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14219

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We’ll be welcoming our fourth baby this May! We’re excited and can hardly believe we just have a little over 3 months to go!

Cecilia is thrilled to become a big sister! She’s such a good little mama to her baby dolls.

This is a picture of our littlest from January 6 when we had our anatomy scan. We did not find out the gender and are looking forward to our surprise when baby arrives!

This is my 24 week belly on January 29.

I’m learning with each baby we have how little babies really need. I purchased a few new cloth diapers for this baby (we have a decent size stash of diapers from Cecilia) and we need to purchase a new car seat (planning to buy Cecilia a new one and let the baby use her current convertible seat.) I have a minimal gender neutral newborn wardrobe that was Cecilia’s and have managed to thrift a few muslin swaddles over the past few months. At this point, we pretty much need some newborn disposable diapers and a Rock N Play for the baby to sleep in for the first few weeks/months and we’ll be all ready to welcome baby number 4.

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Upcycling Cloth Diapers http://intentionallysimple.com/upcycling-cloth-diapers/ http://intentionallysimple.com/upcycling-cloth-diapers/#comments Tue, 10 Jan 2017 22:32:31 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14207

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We’ve been using cloth diapers for nearly 7 years. All of our kids are out of diapers now (our daughter has been out of day time diapers for almost a year) but we’re still using one cloth diaper each night for our daughter.

After being used continuously for 6 years, most of our diapers were in pretty rough condition. Once our youngest potty trained, I went through our stash and pared down to the diapers that were in the best condition to be used as her nighttime diapers and to save for a possible future baby.

What happened to the rest of the diapers?

Swim Diapers

Diaper shells that were leaking due to damaged PUL became swim diapers. I kept two for Cecilia and the rest were passed on to friends.

The bumGenius shells make excellent swim diapers. In my experience, they do a great job keeping in solids (we had a pool for 3 years when our boys were small so I have firsthand experience!)

Cleaning Rags

Cotton prefolds make wonderful cleaning rags. We had several Gerber prefolds that are now my favorite cleaning rag they are great at absorbing spills. They also absorb water really easy which makes them great as a damp cloth for cleaning.

I don’t have any of the thicker prefolds as cleaning rags at this point because I passed on some of these when Cecilia potty trained because they still had quite a bit of life left in them for diapering.

Absorbing and Cleaning Cloths

After being used for nearly 5 years straight, our microfiber inserts still absorbed but smelled horrible after a few wears. It got to where I was stripping nearly every 2 weeks because of microfiber smells. At that point, I replaced all of my microfiber inserts with infant prefolds which took care of the smell issue.

What should you do with all of your microfiber inserts?

They make wonderful cleaning cloths!

My favorite cleaning cloth is the bumGenius newborn insert. When we have a spill, we just place one of these inserts over the spill and it absorbs the liquids up so fast. And, since they’re not being used for diapering, there is no microfiber stink to deal with.

Find a New Home for Useful Diapers

I only suggest upcycling diapers that are no longer useful for diapering babies. If the PUL is still in good condition, the prefolds are not in tatters and your microfiber still has life in it, find a new home for those diapers! Either try to sell them and make back a bit of your investment or just pass them on to another parent who can continue using them.

 

If you cloth diapered, what did you do with your stash once you were finished diapering your babies? 

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A New Year http://intentionallysimple.com/a-new-year/ http://intentionallysimple.com/a-new-year/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2017 21:25:00 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14198

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Hello, dear blog friends. It’s been a while since I last wrote. Here’s a quick update on what’s been going on in the past few months:

We started our second year of homeschooling back in August with Paxton in 1st Grade, Weston in Pre-K and Cecilia as a tag along! This second year of homeschooling has gone so much better than our first. I’ve learned so much about my little student and have learned a lot about myself. Our first half of first grade has been great and I’m really enjoying teaching and learning alongside my children.

Paxton played tackle football this fall which kept us busy for 2 months. He had practice 2-3 times a week with games on Saturdays and a few games on weeknights. It was a lot of going but Paxton had a blast and Weston and Cecilia loved playing with Paxton’s teammates siblings during practices and games. (I may be an introvert and need to be home a lot but my children are quite outgoing and enjoy going places.)

Then the holiday season arrived. We traveled to visit my family for Thanksgiving and we also visited John David’s family in mid-December. We enjoyed the month of December and all the festivities. Our Weston turned 5 on the 22nd, we had a lovely Christmas as a family and John David took the last two weeks of the year off which was wonderful.

During his time off, he started tackling our kitchen renovation more and we’re finally getting close to being finished! And, I am so excited and looking forward to sharing when it’s finished!

He went back to work yesterday and we’re settling back into our school routine.

Of course, the beginning of a new year is a time for thinking about goals and living intentionally and I’ve set a few goals/objectives for 2017.

  • One of those goals is to write here more regularly. I really enjoy blogging/writing but I do not do a great job of making time to blog.
  • Limiting my time on social media is also a goal for this year. I find myself mindlessly browsing Facebook or Instagram when I could be reading, writing, cooking, cleaning or so many other things. I no longer have my phone plugged up beside my bed so it’s not touched first thing in the morning or right before I go to bed. This is really helping!
  • A short term goal we’re working on is a pantry challenge. Our pantry, kitchen freezer and extra freezer were packed full so for the first two weeks of January we’re eating from the pantry/freezer.  The ‘rule’ is that we can buy eggs, milk and produce. All we’ve spent so far this month is $12.09 at Aldi for eggs, 6 avocados (can’t beat $.49 for an avocado!!) and a pineapple for the kids (we have a lot of oranges/apples still) so this will give them a yummy treat! I easily made out a 2 week meal plan and the goal is to make it these 2 weeks but I’m really hoping we can make it all month.
  • We’re also focused on our mortgage payoff goal. The goal is to pay it off by May 2020 and we’re currently a little bit ahead. We’ve been talking about ways to reach this goal faster and are working on implementing some of them. It’s fun having financial goals to work towards!

I’ve got a small list of blog post ideas for the coming weeks so you should be hearing from me more often in 2017!

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Come to the Family Table http://intentionallysimple.com/come-to-the-family-table/ http://intentionallysimple.com/come-to-the-family-table/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2016 16:31:09 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14185

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Come to the Family Table

When we were planning for our marriage, we talked about the importance of family meal times. We have made it a priority to sit down at the table for our meals since our newlywed days (with the exception of pizza night or snack dinner with a movie!)

Now that our children are 6, 4 and 2, we’re actually able to have conversation at the dinner table which is so fun.

We are in the habit of gathering around the table during meal times but we tend to rush through meals. I’ll dish up everybody a plate and call everyone to the table. We sit down, eat, talk a bit and then clear the table. We don’t savor our meal or linger around the table.

Ted and Amy Cunningham’s new book, Come to the Family Table is about ‘slowing down to enjoy food, each other and Jesus.’

This book has both convicted me in the importance of slowing our meal times and has encouraged me in practical ways to do just that.

One chapter is titled ‘A Place for Memories’ and it reminded me that meals are not just about feeding people. Meals are to enjoy and to create ties with the loved ones. I want our family to create memories around our table that each of our children can take with them when they leave our home.

It seems like so much of my day is spend preparing meals and with our tendency to rush through meals, it sometimes leaves me frustrated that I will spend an hour or two preparing a meal only to have it eaten within 10 minutes and then move on to cleaning up the mess. I think that slowing down to savor our food and our time spent together around the table will help me value the time I spend preparing meals even more.

The second part of Come to the Family Table is about sharing meals with others and the importance of hospitality, especially for Christians. This is one area that we’re intentionally working on as a family. It’s still a bit of a step out of our comfort zone to invite others to share meals with our family. We’re finding as we do it more, it becomes easier and we always enjoy time spent gathered around our table with others.

Not only is this book full of inspiring information, it’s also fun. Each chapter includes a recipe that is meaningful to the authors as well as a game you can play around the table and a small devotional. We’ve tried out a couple of the game ideas during our family meals over the past couple of weeks and they have been fun for us all!

This book has practical applications for people in every season of life. Singles, young married couples, couples with children, grandparents all can glean inspiration, wisdom and ideas to strengthen ties with those who gather around their table from Come to the Family Table.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review. This post also contains affiliate links which help support the maintenance of this website.

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Our Summer Garden http://intentionallysimple.com/our-summer-garden/ http://intentionallysimple.com/our-summer-garden/#comments Sat, 23 Jul 2016 15:24:34 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14172

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2016 Garden

Our garden is doing pretty good this summer and we’ve been enjoying tomatoes for several weeks now. Tomatoes are my favorite vegetable to grow!

I’m always amazed at the growth this time of year. Our cantaloupe, watermelon and sweet potatoes have all grown out of their beds and appear to be taking over the garden. It definitely is no longer neat and tidy but it is productive!

Garden

This is what our garden looked like on July 8, right before I harvested the corn.

Garden in April

Here’s the same view from April 24. It’s amazing how things grow so fast!

Squash and Cucumbers

I purposely planted fewer cucumbers this year but they are very prolific and we’ve been picking cucumbers for weeks. I’ve made several batches of refrigerator pickles as well as canned Bread and Butter Pickles and Dill Chips.

Our squash and zucchini have done very well this year too. We’ve eaten quite a bit and have blanched and frozen some to add to stir fry this winter.

Corn and Vegetables

We had a decent sweet corn harvest. This was our second year to grow corn but the first year in a raised bed. We only had 12 corn stalks but they produced  pretty well.

Garden Harvest

I have several Marigolds planted throughout the garden and I think they’re just lovely. I’ve enjoyed picking small bouquets of marigolds and whatever other flowers are blooming.

We’re also still getting CSA boxes each week (the bottom right picture is one of our CSA boxes).

Canned Tomatoes and Pickles

This past week, I canned Dill Chips and Tomatoes. I ended up with 7 quarts of tomatoes which will be used as the base for chili and vegetable soup this fall and winter. I’m hoping to can quite a few more quarts of tomatoes and hopefully salsa in the coming weeks.

Harvest

Now that our tomatoes are in, our garden pictures are much more colorful! I’m enjoying our Cherokee Purples the most – they are an amazing tomato! I eat them plain or with bread and mayo for a simple but delicious tomato sandwich. Our yellow pear and cherry tomatoes are doing quite well, I’ve been adding them into my scrambled eggs each morning and that is so yummy. We’ve also picked two of our sugar baby watermelon (top left picture). They’re tiny but taste pretty good!

I’m starting to plan our fall garden and am looking forward to many, many more weeks of gardening and backyard produce!

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PeapodMats Review http://intentionallysimple.com/peapodmats-review/ http://intentionallysimple.com/peapodmats-review/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 15:13:52 +0000 http://intentionallysimple.com/?p=14154

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PeapodMats Review

All of our children have potty trained right around the age of 2. It’s wonderful having them out of diapers, especially since we cloth diaper and wash diapers every other day. However, we’re still dealing with night time wetting with all three kids (currently ages 6, 4 and 2).

We used cloth diapers at night for awhile with our oldest child but soon they started irritating his bottom. We tried night time potty training for awhile, creating a chart to reward dry nights, hoping it would work. It didn’t, his little body just wasn’t ready and we didn’t push the issue.

So, we switched to disposable diapers at night. And, I hated it. I didn’t like spending money on the diapers, couldn’t stand that they sometimes leaked (then I still had to wash all of the bedding) and hated that the diapers were going to the landfill.

Occasionally, I’d try putting both boys back in cloth diapers at night in hopes they would work. Unfortunately, they continued to irritate their bottoms and sore bottoms just isn’t worth it even though the cloth diapers were more environmentally friendly. (Thankfully, our 2 year old daughter is still able to wear her cloth diapers at night without any irritation!)

Finally, after nearly 4 years of purchasing night time disposable diapers, I was absolutely sick of all the waste we were generating. Two kids just wearing 1 diaper a night adds up to a lot of waste each week.

I started researching for a night time solution. I knew cloth diapers were out of the question. I didn’t just want to let them sleep without anything and wet the bed each night because washing all of the bedding and a mattress protector times two is a lot of hassle, especially since they’re in bunkbeds.

PeapodMat

In my search, I came across PeapodMats and was immediately intrigued by their product. It seemed like it was the exact product we needed. If it worked like they claimed it did, it would be the answer to our night time wetting dilemma.

After reading a few reviews, watching a video demonstration of the product and talking it over with my husband, I purchased one of the 3×3 PeapodMats for $39.99 from Amazon to try out.

Yes, $39.99 is a lot to spend on a simple mat but I was spending around $40 for 6 weeks worth of diapers for my boys. If this one time purchase of the mat really worked, I would not only be saving about $40 every 6 weeks but we’d also stop creating diaper waste.

The boys and I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Peapod. The day it arrived, we were excited to get it washed and get it on the bed. Since both boys wanted to try it out, they slept together in Paxton’s bunk.

It worked well, they both wet that night and the Peapod absorbed all of the liquid and didn’t leak through to the sheets. The next night, one was dry and the other boy was wet and it worked again!

And, our great surprise was that our 6-year-old started waking up dry some mornings. He’s now dry about 50% of the time. Before we purchased the Peapod, he was wet every single night. He has told us that he sometimes would pee in his nighttime diaper before he fell asleep because he didn’t want to get out of bed. Now that he’s not wearing a diaper, he is more careful to pee right before bed, get up to go if he has the urge before he falls asleep and he’ll get up earlier in the morning to pee. I’m convinced that using the PeapodMat  is going to result in him being fully night trained before nighttime diapers would. (He’s actually been dry 7 days in a row now…I’m hoping this continues!!)

5x5 PeapodMat

Since things were going so well with the Peapod mat we ordered, we had the opportunity to work with PeapodMats and review another mat. We ordered a 3×5 mat to try out this time. The 3×5 mat fully covers the entire width of a twin size bed so the extra width provides more protection which is nice if your kiddos move around a lot!

We found that the 3×3 works best with both boys sleeping together since they can’t move that much. When Weston is sleeping on his 3×3 mat alone, he tends to move off of it some nights. We’ve had a few leaks from him rolling off of the mat and onto the bed. If I had to do it over again, I’d spend the extra money and purchase the 3×5 mat for the extra width making it less likely for the child to roll off the mat.

PeapodMat on Bed

We’ve been using our mats for 7 weeks now, I haven’t had to purchase a single diaper so we’ve already saved $40 and will be saving money well into the future because these mats will last for a long time.

We’ll probably be purchasing another mat in the near future to begin using with our daughter (unless Paxton continues to stay dry at night and then we’ll give Weston the 3×5 and Cecilia will get the 3×3 mat!) She’s currently wearing cloth diapers at night but wakes up dry nearly 50% of the time too. We think if she’s not sleeping in a diaper, something may click and she may begin waking up dry even more.

And, the use of these mats is not limited just to night time wetting, I could see them being useful with infants (spit up, blow outs, cosleeping), they make great nap mats and I think they would be quite handy when a stomach virus is making its way through the family.

If you’re tired of the expense and waste of night time diapers with your kids, I highly recommend purchasing a PeapodMat. After the one time expense of the mat, you’ll start saving money by not having to purchase diapers that you just throw away. And, maybe the mat will help your kiddos have some dry mornings too!

PeapodMats is a a small, mom owned business. I love that purchasing these mats supports small business owners and not a large corporation.

You can purchase PeapodMats directly from their website (they are a Canadian company so shipping to the US is a little pricey), from their retailers or via Amazon.

Disclosure – I purchased my first PeapodMat at full price and received the second for the cost of shipping. I was not provided any other compensation for this review, I just want to share a fabulous product with my readers. This post does contain Amazon affiliate links.

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