Personal Encouragement

Well...

I'm just getting started on several of the things that needed to get done today. (It's 11pm and I still have two loads of laundry on the clothesline.) I guess it'll be a long short night.

I went to the dentist this morning. The veridct? Could be better, could be worse. The tooth that was hurting needs a root canal and crown. And I have a couple other cavities that need filled. My gums are doing okay and if I floss every single day instead of just a few times a week, I'll be great.

I will definitely be investigating some more affordable options for the root canal and crown (thanks for the suggestions on my other post, everyone!), as the total estimate for the work they want to do in my mouth came to about 6 of Joshua's paychecks. I could cry. Actually, I did.

So... yeah. Let's just say I've had better days.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't skip dental cleanings.

2. Ignorance really is bliss.

Dental procrastination

Crystal just declared that today is stop procrastinating about something day. And since I like to take Crystal's advice, I decided to call the dentist.

Calling the dentist has been on my "to-do" list for months. Back in January, I started having tooth pain after eating some chocolate. A few days of religiously brushing, flossing, and Listerine-ing alleviated the pain, and I resolved to eat no more chocolate.

Since then, the pain has come and gone, and I kept telling myself I needed to schedule an appointment, but honestly... I'm scared!!

I haven't had a cleaning in 8 years. (No dental insurance and a tight budget sometimes means I cut corners where I probably shouldn't.)

I also have a history of periodontitis. For that reason, I have dreaded going to the dentist ever since my teen years, and then just decided that ignorance is bliss and usually try my hardest not to think about how much work probably needs done in my mouth.

So, I made the dreaded call. The receptionist was reassuringly friendly. My appointment is Thursday morning. I'm guessing they'll give my teeth a good cleaning and then give me my fix-it options so we can decide what we can afford.

Any advice? Is it safe to even have dental x-rays when breastfeeding?

Turning the wrong into the right

Someone at our house got out of bed on the wrong side this morning. (Hint: It wasn't the dad or the boys or the girl.)

After prayer, repentance, and apologizing, I turned off the computer for the day and got busy.

Hard work is always a good, productive way to vent some steam, and with three young children it's never difficult to fill a day with hard work.

It rained all day. I'm looking forward to getting out tomorrow, and I know the children are, too. The laundry piles up quickly when there are 3 rainy days in a row. :)

Remembering the Sabbath

"'And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.'

"So ends the work of creation; and with nightfall, a new world is about to begin. A world of holiness and tranquility. A world within a day, the seventh day. For on the seventh day, God rested, and God blessed the seventh day, and God sanctified it."

-Yarda Hashabbat (the Sabbath descends)

Challah

We've received a number of requests for us to share more about how we observe the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the highlight of our weeks, and we are so blessed and refreshed by its observance! :)

While I don't plan to make this a doctrinal debate of any sort, I will clarify that we observe the Sabbath in a way which we view as Biblical (not "Jewish"). We believe that a day of rest is a blessing, not a burden, and that the Sabbath was set-apart for us by our Creator. :)

The Sabbath is our day of rest. Friday evening (and sometimes Saturday evening, too!) we go to bed early. It is a wonderful reward after a long week -- to head to bed at 8 or 9pm! :) Our children don't have to go to bed early though -- in fact, often they get to stay up a little later than usual with us.

We spend the Sabbath together as a family. We read Scripture, listen to Bible studies/lectures, sing Psalms, play games, have company over, play outdoors, take afternoon naps, or watch part of a Bible movie.

We usually have no trouble filling the whole day with fun and laughter! :) Joshua and I also enjoy the extra time to talk and discuss things together, as our week days tend to be so very busy! :)

Now, a day of rest sounds nice -- but as a mom, I know a "day off" doesn't just "happen"! ;) It takes, of course, planning and preparation.

Before we had children, I did all of my Sabbath preparation on Fridays. I cleaned the whole house (all 600 sq. ft. of it!), made food for Friday evening, and made food for Saturday. Often, we had guests over for dinner on Friday. Friday has always been a busy day here -- I avoid leaving the house for errands and such (though garage sales always tempt me in the summer time!). Grocery shopping gets done on a day other than Friday or Saturday.

Yehoshua stirs the challah...
Yehoshua stirs the challah dough...

Now that I have little helpers, I find it's easiest to use two days to prepare for Sabbath. Here are my general checklists for Thursday and Friday, with Sabbath in mind.

Thursday

•Plan meals for Friday and Saturday -- Ideally this would/could be done even earlier in the week, before the week's grocery shopping trip, but if it's not done by Thursday, I do it then.

•Catch up on general cleaning -- I usually clean the bathroom, vacuum and mop the floors downstairs, and do any other cleaning or tidying that needs done. On Fridays, I only have to do touch-up cleaning if necessary.

Challah!
Braided challah, ready to rise.
I have so much fun braiding with 6 strands!

Friday

•Make challah -- We love challah (it's tasty whether you keep the Sabbath or not!) and when I do make it for Sabbath, I start it early in the morning so it will be done in plenty of time.

•Wash diapers/laundry -- I always wash a load of diapers on Friday morning, so we'll have clean diapers for the weekend! :) I also do any other laundry that needs washed, since I don't do any laundry on Sabbath.

•Make Friday evening's dinner -- This is usually something nice, and I try to do most of the preparation early in the day.

•Make Saturday's meals -- I usually make something that can be baked (in the winter) or eaten cold (in the summer). Sometimes, if it's just us (no guests!) I'll serve leftovers for lunch.

Yehoshua sweeps...
Yehoshua does a quick-sweep of the kitchen floor...

•Wash the dishes -- After making two days' meals, there are always mountains of dishes!

•Do any touch-up cleaning needed -- This should only take 10-15 minutes, if I got everything cleaned the day before!

•Baths/showers for everyone

The Friday list should be done by dinner time, since Sabbath starts at sunset. :)

We don't do all of the traditional Sabbath prayers or light candles, but when we have challah and juice/wine, we do sing the Hebrew blessings for the bread and wine. :) I enjoy meaningful traditions, but obviously they are not Scripturally commanded, so we don't feel as though we must observe them. :)

Delicious challah... so beautiful, too!

Sabbath Meals

There are different ideas of what is permissible on the Sabbath when it comes to cooking. My general "rule" is to have food prepared the day before, so that on the Sabbath I am just re-warming/baking what has already been made. Since I cook from scratch, I find that a good portion of our dirty dishes are from actually making the meal -- which all gets done during the day on Friday. :) Crock pots are also very handy for Sabbath lunches. :)

It's also okay to keep things simple! :) Like I mentioned above, sometimes I serve leftovers on Sabbath. I really really prefer to have a nice meal on Friday evenings ('erev Shabbat), but truly -- resting is more important than feasting. If my Friday is getting crazy and "nothing" is getting done, then we have simpler Sabbath meals. :) I do find, though, that with forethought and preparation, things don't usually fall completely apart... :)

There are, of course, a few things that don't cease just because it's Sabbath. There are still diapers to change, hands and faces to clean, and crumbs to wipe up from the table. I like to stack the dirty dishes in the sink, so they actually fit (rather than being stacked randomly all over the counters and stove). We use our normal dishes, but if you can't bear the thought of a whole day's dishes to wash after Sabbath, you might find that disposable dinnerware is worth the expense. :) Since I already have all of the dishes washed from making the meals, I don't really mind dirty plates/bowls and a baking dish or two. :)

So, that's really it, I think! :)

If you have any more questions for me, feel free to ask them in the comments. :)

And, if you observe the Sabbath in your home, I'd love to hear what you do to make that day special for your family! :)

The quest for weight loss and beauty

Some questions left by a recent commenter:

Your cooking is very rich. What are your thoughts on postpartum weight loss and being thin verses chubby? What are your thoughts on how media portrays beauty?

First, if you haven't already done so, you might enjoy reading my post titled Balance in Eating from a couple months ago. :) That post sort of explains our typical diet, which might not be quite as lavish as initially appears from the many recipes here. ;)

I am not what I would consider particularly thin, but I am also not considered overweight according to charts. Since weight and size varies so much from person to person, I'll just say that I am at the very top of what is considered a healthy weight for my height.

Of course, true healthiness isn't about certain numbers on the scale, and I actually don't weigh myself very often at all, since doing so only reminds me of what the scale used to say when I was 18... which was a considerably smaller number. I've found that doing things to be healthy (exercising, drinking lots of water, eating good foods, etc.) and not focusing on my weight is the best way for me to keep a good perspective on things! :)

I know thin people and chubby people who are unhealthy. I also know thin people as well as chubby people who are very healthy. Exercise and diet are far more important than a clothing size or a number on the scales.

About postpartum weight loss -- I think any weight loss should be done in a healthy manner. Not too quickly, and with exercise and healthy eating as the focus.

I was going to write out all my thoughts about postpartum weight loss, but found this article which pretty much covers everything. :) I personally don't worry about or try to lose weight until my baby is at least a couple months old. And no, I'm not one of those people who just lose all the extra weight without some effort. ;)

How the media portrays beauty? I haven't seen much true beauty in mainstream media. I am thankful that my husband sees me as beautiful just like I am. And honestly, we rarely expose ourselves to modern secular media outside of the news (which we read online). :)

Balance in eating

Louise asked this question on my last pregnancy update:

I have been wondering how you manage to stay in shape while eating all the yummy food and desserts that you make?

Good question! :) I think one of the pitfalls of having a food blog is that most of my blogging centers around, well, food... even though food isn't the focus of my existence, and we certainly believe in and practice moderation! :)

I honestly don't cook large fancy meals all the time... or even most of the time. A typical family dinner for us usually includes three foods -- a main dish (with meat), a cooked vegetable, a side bread/pasta/potato, and whatever else I happen to have (fruit, salad, baked goods). You might notice this in the pictures I post of our dinner plates: I usually take a picture of the plate of food I am about to eat... so if the plate is one-third or one-half full of cooked veggies, that's what I'm really eating! :) 

We do love to make bigger meals for company, so when we have guests, we end up having a much larger meal (5-6 foods plus dessert). When it's just us, I don't usually have a special dessert made. We might have a little ice cream from the freezer, or I might have some muffins on hand, but we don't have dessert every day.

Joshua does make some really amazing cheesecakes, but even those aren't our everyday fare. ;) The last cheesecake Joshua made was about 3 weeks ago, and we served some to our dinner guests. I froze the leftover pieces, and have eaten three (small) pieces since then. There's still cheesecake in our freezer, which will probably last until the next special occasion when Joshua makes a new one! :)

So, we eat fairly balanced meals, and keep our portions in check. In the warmer months, I love taking brisk walks (some of my exercise ideas can be found here!), though I must confess that exercizing regularly is something I have to work at.

Enjoying the "right now"

Pumpkin cheesecake and eggless egg nog :)

We had such a fun, full day of visiting with family. :) I slept in until 8 this morning, and then started right in on my dinner rolls. Joshua made breakfast for us, and then made some eggless egg nog. :) Yes, I know there is cheesecake in this picture... we will get the recipe typed up tomorrow! :)

The dinner rolls took up most of the morning (with no time for pictures -- so I'll take some tomorrow!) and in-between forming rolls and baking them, we managed to fit showers and kitchen clean-up and getting-ready-to-go. :)

Yehoshua and Eliyahu had a blast playing with their cousins, and completely wore themselves out. When we got back home at 7 pm, they both went straight to bed! :) At their ages right now (3.5 and almost-2), they are old enough to play nicely with other children and don't get into so much trouble. I could actually visit with other people while keeping an eye on them as they played! :)

In many ways, this time before the new baby's birth is relaxing, and I'm enjoying some of the freedoms of having "older" children. :) I know I will enjoy having a newborn in a few months, but I'm also enjoying "right now"...

I have spent wasted far too many moments waiting for everything to be "perfect" before being thankful, content, and happy. It's so much better to just stop -- and enjoy the right now with which I've been blessed. :)

Enjoying cloth diapering

I wrote this post for my personal journal in March of 2006, back when Eliyahu was a newborn. :)

Have you ever heard of someone praying that they would enjoy cloth diapers? Well, I did, 2 days ago.

"Wait a minute," I know you're thinking, "isn't this the girl who raved about using cloth diapers just a year or so ago?!"

Well, let me tell you about why I prayed... and how Yahweh answered :)

To begin at the beginning... you might remember that I used cloth diapers with Yehoshua from about 1 month of age until he started solids at about 1 year of age. I really wanted to succeed at cloth diapering, and stuck it out through the initial adjustment, enjoying the "old-fashioned" task of changing and laundering all that nice soft cotton, relishing the thought of all the money I was saving while at it :). I've always enjoyed hanging laundry out on the clothesline, and since that's one of the best things for cloth diapers, I had a blast! Our neighbors (first an elderly couple and then a lady) just loved seeing diapers flapping in the breeze across their lawns!

When Yehoshua started solids, I eventually gave up on cloth diapering because of the consistency of the poo, staining, lack of sunny days to hang laundry out, training him to sleep through the night, finding out I was pregnant again, etc. etc. (you get the idea). I always said I couldn't wait to use cloth on the next baby, and that I would delay solids and use cloth for at least a year again (hopefully, if it worked out best for the baby).

So, along came Eliyahu, and I had a few packages of disposables for those first few weeks... just while we all got adjusted to having a new baby.

From the time he was just a couple days old, Eliyahu had diaper rash. It took me the longest time (well, maybe only 3 weeks, but it felt like forever!) to figure out what was causing it. Since I'm the type of person who likes variety, I had opened a couple different kinds of diapers, and would just use whatever kind I felt like using at each change. Silly, huh? Well, anyway, finally I figured out that Luv's diapers were causing this rash. I wasn't too shocked, since those ones were scented. I started using some Huggies diapers I had and within less than a day, it was noticeably better.

However, I ran out of the Huggies, and we bought two kinds of generic, unscented diapers. The diaper rash came back, and I tried everything I knew to get rid of it... letting his bottom air out between changes, patting gently dry with a soft cloth between changes, using ointment, etc. and the rash only got worse! :| I was so frustrated and didn't know if he just had a really sensitive bottom, if I was eating something irritating to him, or what!

Joshua said he would take care of laundering the cloth diapers (since our washer was in the basement and I wasn't able to lift things yet), and so in desperation, I tried cloth. The rash still didn't look better in the 12 hours or so that I used cloth. I didn't want to use ointment with my cloth diapers (since rash ointment doesn't wash out very easily). Finally, I thought, "Maybe Huggies diapers will work." In desperation, I got a package of Huggies diapers. I had two nearly-full packages of other diapers and a gift package of Luv's (a huge one, but I couldn't return it because it was purchased on clearance) here at home, and all I could think of was how we couldn't afford Huggies and waste all those others -- but I didn't know what to do.

Thankfully, the Huggies (and lots of ointment and prayer :D) cleared up his bottom, and in just a few days' time, there was no diaper rash! So, we figured out that he must have been sensitive to something in those other three kinds!

I was so relieved to have found something that would work, as the rash had gotten really bad and even bled a little :(. I kept purchasing Huggies, but even with my few coupons, they were SO expensive.

In the back of my mind, I knew I should try cloth diapers again now that the rash was gone. I kept putting it off. Things were going so well, Eliyahu was such an "easy" baby compared to Yehoshua, and I liked my comfortably life of using disposables. Yes, I knew I had loved cloth in the past, but maybe I had been wrong. Cloth diapers couldn't be as fun or as nice as I had made them out to be. Besides, I didn't even have "nice" diaper covers, etc...

But thankfully, Joshua prompted me, "When are you going to switch to cloth?" Knowing that it was costing him/us a LOT of money to buy diapers, and that we had very useable cloth supplies sitting here at home, I said, "Tomorrow."

Inwardly, I groaned. I had been putting it off, and now I knew I just had to do it. We couldn't afford to buy diapers.

That night, I got out my cloth diaper supplies, again. (I had gotten them out before, but put everything back away.) I had a Snappi from my friend Lucy to try, this time, and my new homemade fleece liners to try... were they really as nice as Lucy and another friend, Ruth, claimed? ;) I even had 2 nice covers from Lucy (which I don't think quite fit yet, but I'll be using them as soon as they do ;D).

The next morning, I put Eliyahu in cloth. I kept praying that Yahweh would give me a desire to do this, because I was still dreading the exile of my easy comfortable life! Within the first couple diaper changes, Yahweh had answered. I was enjoying --no, LOVING!-- cloth diapers again! They weren't much extra work at all! Eliyahu's bottom felt so clean and dry and smooth as I pinned (or snappied ;D) a fresh diaper on him. They didn't leak. The diaper rash didn't come back!!! And no more costly trips to Wal-mart to buy Huggies. Best of all, I was obeying my husband and Yahweh was giving me joy. Yay!

The ironic part of all this is that when I wanted to use cloth diapers with Yehoshua, Joshua thought it was a lot of work and probably not worth it, but I convinced him that I liked the extra work and it was better for the baby. Now, he likes me to use cloth and says how expensive diapers are and how disposables make so much trash to take out, and how much better it is to use cloth diapers! :)

Hanging diapers with my boys... summer of 2006

On my mind

I recently read something that got me thinking about my blog content.

And since I write a recipe and cooking blog, I post a lot about food. I also enjoy making things from scratch, and pinching pennies. My blog content is focused and doesn't always have a lot of variety in topic, but not because I don't care about lots of things. There's only so much time in the day, and I have to choose a tiny portion of our lives to write about!

We've never really felt the luxury of "lots" of money, and if we didn't live frugally, we would be deep into debt by now. Sure, we do without some things that we could probably afford... like going out to eat. (Actually, our reasons for not going out to eat are more about quality preferences!) 

I'm sure we could manage eating out once a week. But could we manage eating out, buying ready-made foods, driving the car frequently, always using the electric dryer, buying disposable diapers, buying new clothing, and without everything else we do to save money? Absolutely not!

But your budget might allow for more of those things. And I hope you know that I think that's perfectly fine! :) I'm really into homemade bagels right now, but that doesn't mean I think everyone has to make their own. I use cloth diapers, I love cloth diapering, but you can use whatever keeps your baby clean and dry! (Just don't complain to me about the price, that's all! ;D)

I love simple, everyday things. I like to cook, I love Yahweh, and I love my family. So this is just my little disclaimer... yes, there are more important things than the things I blog about. And no, I'm not over here passing judgment on those of you who really don't want to make homemade laundry soap or use old socks for dishrags! ;)

It amazes me sometimes, how my Heavenly Father knows exactly what I need, and when. I love getting encouraging comments and emails, like this comment posted earlier today:

"I've been reading your blog for a few months, and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy it. Of all the different blogs I read, this one makes me feel the most comfortable or at home :) I guess maybe because we have similar interests and you seem to be an easy going person. I just felt like I needed to tell you that you are encouraging and uplifting and I am blessed to get to read your words :) Thanks so much!  --Jessica, mom to three BUSY little girls"

And here, all day, I had been wondering, "How in the world can I blog a real picture of what I think about life in general?!" I know the answer is that I can't, and I don't have to be able to! :) But I'm so thankful that God is using this little website to encourage others!

But it's late, and I'm rambling. Good night! :)

Doing what I can do

Self-discipline. You know, I have so far to go on this one!

I'm working on a list of goals for our family right now (well, mostly for me, involving the children, since Joshua has his goals already mapped out!) and I need to set some more (better) boundaries for myself.

One of my goals is to exercise regularly. Exercise is so beneficial, in the short term (energy!) and long term (overall health). I really can't sit here worrying about this or that additive in my food, when I refuse to get adequate exercise.

I may not be able to eat 100% organic food and avoid every single harmful ingredient completely, but I CAN exercise. So why worry about what we can't change, when we're not even doing the things we CAN?!

So, when I saw Crystal's new podcast yesterday, I forced myself to not listen to it. Instead, I listened to it while I exercized this morning! It was an enjoyable listen, as I expected! ;)

After being rather sick for almost a month, I'm excited about feeling well again and getting back into exercizing!! :)

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