Thursday, January 28, 2010

Home Made Diaper Wipes

For the past 3 children I have used this recipe to make diaper wipes. I love them. I never run out of wipes because I always have the ingredients on hand. It only takes about 1 minute to make these and they work great. I also like that I know exactly what I am putting on my little ones bottom! I am also going to experiment and see if I can't come up with a cleaning wipes recipe to use as well. I'll post any success's!

1 roll Bounty paper towel cut in half (I use a serrated kitchen knife to cut, and these must be the thick good quality paper towels)
2 Tbsp. baby oil
2 Tbsp. baby shampoo
1 1/2 cups warm water

Cut bolt of paper towel in half. Put in a plastic container that holds it firmly. When I started making these I invested in a good container that was easy to open. You could try and recycle a food container to use also. Mix warm water, oil and shampoo. Pour over paper towel. Pull out wet center roll of cardboard. Wa la perfect wipes, your baby will thank you!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just Stop It!

Funny, Funny, Funny! If you get a chance check out Stacy McDonalds blog and video.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I recently attended a H.O.M.E. meeting at our church. Once a month some women who home school or are interested in homeschooling get together and discuss different topics, pray and offer support to one another. At this past meeting we had a guest speaker, Vicky, who talked about courtship. I loved what Vicky had to say and her story. She has 5 girls 2 of whom have courted and are married, one who is currently courting and 2 other daughters. As a mother of 5 girls myself I really perked up and listened when Vicky spoke.

I have heard of courting before and really have been taken with the idea. At first I thought it was some sort of politically correct arranged marriage situation. I realize now that is way off! Courtship is purposeful dating with the intention of marriage. Ideally you get to know someone well in a friendship, then the man approaches the woman's father in a request to court the girl, asks the girl and then courts, works towards engagement and marries. The thing that is most appealing to me about this model is that the man and woman's hearts are wisely protected and accountable to others. In our culture so many times men and women suffer tremendous heart-ache and pain from dating. In the book Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham he says, "dating is simply practicing for divorce." I couldn't agree more. It pains me to think about my girls hearts breaking needlessly because of lack of caution in where they give their hearts away.

I have many years before I need to really deal with courting. I do however wonder now what I can do start protecting my little girls hearts from the pain of prematurely giving them away to the wrong things. As women and girls we have a bent for romance and can easily give away our hearts and be led by emotion. God has wisely designed us to be emotional, feeling and tuned into our hearts. This will help us to raise the little ones he has us parent and protect our home. Unfortunately with the fall I believe this blessing also became our curse, if we are not careful we can follow our hearts into much trouble. Unguided, unchecked and uncontrolled we can very easily have our hearts crushed and in the process sin as well. So I wonder what do I do now to inform, train and teach my girls that, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond all cure" Jer. 17:9.? How do I start to teach them to, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life" Pr. 4:23?

I have had a few thoughts on what to do, but, hope to have more and nail this down a little more firmly as our girls grow. One thought that I took away from the meeting was to really be diligent in watching what I allow my little girls to see and be entertained by. So many movies, books and songs now rouse the heart to love far before it is time to be concerned with such things. Romance for small children is just silly and ridiculous but it sells! Nearly every Disney movie that involves a princess also involves a prince. Most pop music has jilted teenage love or devotion of another as the main theme. This is unacceptable. I do not want to give the message to my little girls that boyfriends, girlfriends, breaking up, fighting over a mate, arguing and making up is at all acceptable or realistically a part of their teen years. My girls have an active enough imagination without adding the fantasy of princess's marrying, wedding dresses, boyfriends and the such to their minds. The fantasy play that we allow needs to be carefully watched. We do not want to wake a girls sweet purity up too soon, it will do nothing but cause heart ache.

Another item that I had brought to my attention is that Pete and I are responsible for overseeing our girls hearts until they marry. That is a long time! It is our job now to make sure that these precious hearts are not being led astray, hurt, or set up for failure. When our children are left to themselves to date and carry on with boys as they please we are neglecting to care for the entire child. I don't want to pretend like I know how to keep my own heart completely, much less my child's, but I realize I must start forging a relationship when my girls are little so that they will hopefully trust me with their hearts when they are older and allow Pete and I to help protect and guide them. This is a scary thought because of the gravity it holds, but, in another way I look forward to seeing them have joy filled marriages that aren't entered into with past baggage and pain. I also look forward to helping along the way.

There is so much more for me to consider and learn in this area. I hope that if you have any ideas on how to start promoting the care and protection of your child's heart at a young age you will respond here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Best Roast!

I have to share this recipe because it just makes me happy to think about how tasty it is! It has become a favorite at our house. I spent years making mediocre roasts in the crock pot, no more! This one rules supreme.

Chuck Roast (you could use another cut but I like the fatty, cheaper chuck it just tastes good!!)
Buttermilk (this is the magic ingredient do not skip this step you will regret it)
Olive Oil
1C Red Wine (use the good stuff, please)
2C water
2 beef bouillon cubes (you could use beef stock in place of the water & cubes but, I am too cheap to buy the stock and too lazy to make it)
fresh ground pepper
cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1-The two things that make this roast stand out are the cast iron pot it is cooked in and the buttermilk soak. Take your thawed roast, poke holes in it with a skewer all over and then cover it in a buttermilk. Let sit in the fridge at least one day up to several. I have even taken a frozen roast covered it with buttermilk and then poked the holes later.
2-After enough time has gone by take the roast out of the buttermilk and thoroughly dry it off. If you skip this it won't brown in the next step.
3-Heat up a cast iron dutch oven on the stove top. When good and hot add some butter and olive oil to brown the meat in. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Remove the meat and set aside.
4-Drain extra cooking fat, leaving nice crusty bits on the bottom. Add the wine, water and cubes. Bring to boil and skim off any foam on the top. Anytime you have foam it is the impurities in whatever you are cooking-nasty make sure to skim it! Then add some thyme I never measure maybe a 1/2t, add some pepper again I don't measure maybe 1/8t. Return meat to pot and set in 300 degree oven covered for several hours, I usually do 3-4.
3-Clean and cut up your veggies. Add to pot and cook 1 more hour.
4-Remove meat and veggies from pan and make gravy. Put the pan on the stove top add 1-2c water and bring to boil. Add a mixture of cold water and cornstarch to boiling water and stir until thick. Taste to see if you need salt at this point. I usually don't.
5-Feed to your hungry clan that is salivating from the aroma in the house!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Managing our Homes Part II: House & Meals

It feels like it has been a long time since I have been able to blog. I kind of miss it. The reason for the delay was a case of the stomach flu at our house. Now that it is done and over I find I need to get my house and meal plans back in order. As I was thinking about what needed to be done I thought I would share some ways I manage here at the Lebens.

God has given us a great help in this area in our husbands. It is important to ask him his standard and then try and make it yours as well. Many times I have gotten all out of whack and started serving my home and had my attitude all wrong when my husband will remind me that he doesn't care if I keep a perfect house, he does care if I have a bad attitude though. Other times I haven't paid well enough attention to what I should and I have had to be reminded that I am being distracted! Either way I feel so blessed and at peace when he sets the tone. It honestly brings me freedom to know that I don't have to live up to my own standards in these areas only Pete's.

The care of our home as far as cleaning and upkeep go has had several different forms depending on where we are at with life. When I had less children and more time I would simply have a certain day each week to do tasks like cleaning, baking, or shopping. When we started schooling and my daytime hours to dedicate to home got cut in half that had to change. I would try and do a little each day at the same time the children did their chores. Then we had a baby and inevitably she needed to be nursed or cared for during the time I was suppose to be doing my portion of the chores so then they got moved to whenever I could get them done!

Things seem to have stabilized with our schedule once again and I have fallen into another pattern that seems to be working well for now. For cleaning I try and dedicate Saturday mornings to doing a house clean with the children. Throughout the week I will upkeep what needs to be done more often as I see necessary. Our children (with the exception of baby Gretta) all have daily chores that they do. We have set aside a time after breakfast to do our morning chores. Each child has a chore chart to refer to if they can't remember what to do. They have the standards like brushing hair and teeth but also age appropriate items that will help their family. For the 3 year old it is taking care of dirty laundry and emptying the garbage's. The 5 year old it's organizing shoes and helping with her kitchen chores. The 7 year old feeds the chickens and cleans the bathrooms. We also do chore rotation, it seems that the children do their work more contentedly and well if I switch up the chores often. None of our children are at an age where they can do the work as well as an adult which is expected however, their help makes it easier for me to deal with less of a mess less often.

We also have mealtime chores. At each meal the children have a job to do whether it be setting and clearing the table, loading and unloading the dishwasher or sweeping the floor. Recently our 3 oldest children were gone and I found that I really missed having them help with these things. This is a tremendous blessing for a homeschooling momma who cooks for hungry people 3 times a day and snacks in between! A couple of things that have made this work well is that I spent a long time training the children on these chores and staying with them in the kitchen. We would sing together and laugh and visit so it didn't seem overwhelming or monotonous. Patience is key in getting the children to help with the household chores because it takes a long time to train them and then an even longer time to see really great work, they are only children! I try and keep my expectations at a place that challenges the children to do a good job, but doesn't exasperate them into not wanting to help. One more note on this area is that our children have stepped out and asked to help at other people's homes when we've been out. The responses I have received from others has been great. My sister-in-law once said, "I will have to ask you how you get your kids to help so well when I have kids I want mine to do that." I think it is great that people notice and I always hope it gives us the opportunity to share with them that it is not us but, the Lord being the center of our lives. Our goal isn't to have children who are adept at keeping house rather, we want children who see a need and fill it, who serve others joyfully and who want to bless others.

The biggest help to me no matter what life has been like is having a plan. I always and I mean ALWAYS have a planning chart going. On it I write a meal plan, school plans, social plans, to do list and chores that need to get done. I can easily look at my chart and know what is coming next or write down a to do for later without fear of forgetting, although I still seem to forget plenty.

Meal planning is another necessity in our home. I find that having a plan in place helps me to keep things on hand that I will need and scramble at meal time less often. A couple of things that I have found helpful are keeping a few freezer meals ready to go for the days I get a little lazy and not over complicating things. I keep a list of healthy meals our family enjoys with my planning chart and every now and then I try a new meal. I now do my meal planning once per week and then shop one to two times per week. This is a pretty good fit for now since keeping fresh foods in the house is important to me.

When I go to do a meal plan I first think of what I have on hand that needs to be used up. Generally I start with the meat items in the freezer and find ways to use them. Buying meats on sale is by far the best way to save on them, so I stock up and then incorporate them in future meal plans. Anyways I start with meat, create a meal around them and write on my menu what day we will eat it, taking into consideration the time it takes to make and the commitments that day has. Then I fill in lunches. We eat leftovers for lunch whenever possible, which is rare here since Pete takes leftovers for work lunches. If there are no leftover options for lunch I have another list of lunch staples we enjoy and plug them in. I have a standard breakfast routine, this is great because each day has a certain item Mon. is oatmeal, Tues. is cereal, Wed. is yogurt parfaits, Thurs. is muffins and eggs, Fri. is oatmeal, Sat. pancakes, sausage and berries, Sun. is eggs, toast and smoothies. Ahhh...I never have to think about what to make for breakfast it's a good feeling. Are you sensing I get a little excited about meal planning yet? I do. I would gladly sit and meal plan over any other household thing I do each week.

I am by nature a planner. I often find the planning much more fulfilling than the execution. Over the past 7 years I have tried alot of different plans but slowly this is the one that has taken course. It has brought peace many times to know that there is a plan in place and I don't have to stress at the end of the day trying to sort out the next day. It has also been a blessing to be able to deviate when times call for it. During the summer we have a less lax schedule and do a little more go with the flow. Again we don't want to be serving our homes and schedules but, have them serve us.