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.

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!

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.

Oh, how I love the month of June when the garden is full of surprises with nearly trip outside. The squash is starting to produce and there are tiny tomatoes all over tomato plants and we’re eating so many fresh vegetables and beginning to preserve our harvest.

We started gardening around mid-February when we planted our sugar snap peas, kale, collards and carrots. Our kale did very well and was harvested in early May and our sugar snap peas did very well this year too. We picked lots of sugar snap peas over nearly a 4 week period. Our kiddos favorite way to eat them was straight from the vine but we also added them to stir fry, ate them with hummus and I even tried a quart jar of refrigerator pea pickles (the kids love pickles but don’t love these just yet!)

Around mid-April, we had planted most of our garden for this summer. We planted onions, tomatoes, cabbage, squash, zucchini, cucumber, sweet corn, popcorn and peppers.  In early May, we added even more tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes.

We also added in 3 new raised beds this spring and I want to expand our garden even more!

Garden - April 24

This is our garden as it looked on April 24th.

Garden - June 6

This is the garden from earlier this week on June 6. It had rained nearly every day the previous week and all of our plants had experienced explosive growth (it had been very dry).

Sugar Snap Peas

Here’s one of our large pea harvests.

Broccoli and Squash

This is our very first squash of the summer and two broccoli crowns. Since we don’t spray, we battled cabbage worms for a couple weeks. Since we only had two broccoli plants this spring, we simply picked worms off every evening to try to prevent them from completely destroying the plant.

Little Farmer

Last night, Weston joined me and we harvested 3 squash and 1 zucchini. Harvesting is always fun for me but harvesting with my kiddos is even more fun.

Our garden is the largest we’ve ever had and we anticipate eating from our garden quite a bit this summer and hopefully preserving quite a bit, especially tomatoes. However, it’s still not large enough to fully feed us so we decided to join a CSA this summer.

We purchased a half share from a local-ish farm which has a drop in our area. The half share was $400 for 24 weeks which breaks down to just over $16.50 per week. We’re 3 weeks into our CSA and receiving our boxes each week has been such fun, I feel like a kid at Christmas every week when I dig into our box.

We joined the CSA to support local farmers as well as to try new vegetables and hopefully find more foods that we enjoy.

CSA Week 1

 

Week 1 box – This one included cherry tomatoes, peas, broccoli, baby collards, radishes, turnips and cabbage.

The baby collards, radishes and turnips are not vegetables I normally purchase. In fact, I didn’t even realize that radishes were a spicy vegetable. And, nobody in our family is a fan of the radishes, at least not yet!

I sautéed the baby collards, chopped them up and added them to a quiche, it was delicious.

I had cooked turnips only once before and nobody liked them, including me. I found this recipe for Scalloped Turnips which was super simple and very, very good. John David said they were the best turnips he’d ever had.

CSA Week 2

Week 2 box – Lettuce, cabbage, zuchinni, squash, tomato, broccoli, cucumber and daikon radish.

I was thrilled to have my first fresh tomato of the summer. I promptly made a loaf of sourdough bread and enjoyed a tomato sandwich which is my favorite way to eat tomatoes!

No one in our family loves cucumbers, unless they’re pickled. I’ll eat them but they’re not my favorite. I ate one with hummus and then added it to a salad, then other I tossed into pickle juice to make refrigerator pickles.

The daikon radish was a completely new vegetable, I had never even heard of it. I chopped it up and added it to a stir fry which seemed like an easy way to eat it. Neither John David or I liked it, the taste was pretty mild but it was quite stringy and I did not like the texture one bit.

CSA Week 3

Week 3 box – Tomatoes, turnips, cauliflower, squash, cucumber, collards and beets.

My kiddos were super excited about this box because it had beets! They watched an episode of A Chef’s Life a few weeks ago where Vivian made a beet cake and they’ve been hoping beets would show up in our box so we could make a beet cake.

I found this recipe for Fudgy Beet Cupcakes. I followed it exactly, except I did substitute milk for almond milk. The kids helped me prep the cake and were super excited to eat the cupcakes. They were surprisingly delicious. They were very moist and chocolatey but had a slight earthy flavor from the beets. Weston wasn’t a huge fan of these but everybody else really enjoyed them.

And, following the ‘waste not, want not’ motto, I even used the beet greens! I sautéed them in olive oil with onion and added them along with potatoes to a quiche was was pretty good.

We’re having the collards for dinner tonight with beans, cornbread and zuchinni relish which I’ve made from last week’s zuchinni from our CSA box and our zuchinni we’ve harvested.

I’m looking forward to harvesting even more, branching out and trying new veggies and recipes with our CSA veggies, preserving as much as I can and planning our fall garden in the weeks ahead.

Do you garden? What are you growing?