Our Family

4 fun summer uses for our apartment balcony

Apartment balcony

I was thinking of all the ways we make use of our apartment balcony, and decided to take photos of a few things we do out there! I get frustrated at times (mostly due to the carpet under our dining room table and the many small children who dine here ;D), but there are some really great things about our apartment... like the beautiful sunny balcony surrounded by trees! I love it! :)

(Okay, those beautiful trees also shed... I'm constantly picking pine needles out of our carpet! Gotta love the PNW!)

Balcony Use #1: Clothesline

Apartment clothesline

Has anyone missed seeing pictures of my clothesline this year? Well, my apartment clothesline is back in full force... whenever the sun decides to come out. Hanging laundry in the sun is amazingly therapeutic for me and seeing the clothes drying in the sun makes me HAPPY! My balcony clothesline also shades our (non-air-conditioned) apartment from the summer sun and not using the dryer lowers the electric bill. But really? The real reason I put laundry out is because I LIKE TO.

Although... I will confess to feeling a little embarrased when our neighbors see me out there hanging stuff up! I'm probably just a little crazy when it comes to laundry outside.

Balcony Use #2: Kids + Play-Dough

Balcony play dough

My friend Melissa made some non-toxic scented play dough and gave us several jars. But remember the carpet under our dining room table? Well, I just spread out a big cardboard box (larger than the one pictured is best) and let the kids use play dough on the balcony. Any crumbs either dry up in the sun (haha, I wish!) and get swept away, or else get washed away in the rain (more likely this year!).

Balcony Use #3: Grill. Lots.

Our Weber Q

I know I talk about our Weber Q Grill waaaay to much. But how can I help it when Joshua grills yummy food for us multiple times each week, especially in the summer?! Grilling is another great thing on a hot day to help our non-air-conditioned house stay comfortable.

Now, here is where things do get a little tricky. Grilling while drying laundry can result in smoky laundry, and I'm not crazy enough to want my laundry smelling like it was dried in the fresh outside air right above our grill. And since I hang out lots of laundry and Joshua grills lots, it's sometimes a scrambling act to not combine the two. But I manage, because I'll do just about anything to be able to eat Joshua's grilled food AND hang out my laundry!! :)

Balcony Use #4: Water Gun Fights!

Squirt Gun Fight!

And my final creative use for our balcony is to let the boys go out there (and close the glass doors!) and have a squirt gun fight! :) This activity can be done rain or shine, hot or cold (according to the boys), and making them fill their own guns at the kitchen sink keeps them occupied even longer!

Maybe those of you who live in an apartment too will have even more ideas to share with me. I'd love to hear! :)

This also fits perfectly with Jessica's Frugal Fridays tip this week: Stay home more! :)

From our life: Weddings, babies, cooking inspiration, hobbies and more

Peanut butter sandwiches for lunch at a nearby park. Picnics are fun + fewer crumbs on my dining room carpet! :)

I still have a few more interview questions to answer from this post! Thank you so everyone who has played along with me in asking/answering questions! :)

Here are my five questions from Sarah Robbins:

1. I remember a few years ago, you mentioned being careful not to have too many baby things. We are expecting our first and I was wondering what you would consider "baby essentials"?

I have a blog post dedicated to what I consider to be baby essentials, including money-saving and space-saving tips and photos of how our kids' room looks. :)

My baby essentials would be clothing, diapers (I love cloth), a car seat, some kind of carrier (I have a mei tai that a friend made; we're looking into getting an Ergo soon, using Amazon gift cards from SwagBucks), blankets (depending on the climate), and tear-free baby wash (I got Burt's Bees baby wash as a gift and it's so nice! But usually I just use Huggies baby wash, combining a sale or rebate with a coupon).

It's handy to have a safe place for the baby to sleep -- like a crib -- especially with other children in the home (or pets). I also have a jogging stroller and find it very useful, especially when the baby is bigger than I can comfortably carry in my mei tai but not yet big enough to keep up on walks (a window of time from about 10-12 months until 2 or 3 years of age).

I used to be against borrowing things, but have changed my mind when it comes to some baby stuff. A swing, bassinette, baby bath tub, exersaucer, bouncy seat, or play pen are all things I would consider borrowing as needed since in my experience they have been useful for such a short window of time (or not used at all with some of my babies!) and require more storage space, which we don't have at our current home. :)

2. What's your favorite thing to do with you spare time- not that you probably have very much of it!

A few of my favorite things to do are playing piano and violin, stamping cards, organizing stuff, reading, walking outdoors, drinking tea, thrift store shopping, spending time just talking with my husband, and yes -- cooking! ;) I spend a lot of my spare time blogging though.

Some of my hobbies I get to enjoy almost daily -- like walking, drinking tea, spending time with Joshua, and blogging. Others -- like making cards or going thrift shopping -- happen only a few times each year. :)

Rich and Candy
My brother Rich and his new bride Candy last weekend!

3. How did you and your husband meet and get married?

Here is a blog post about our wedding (with some pictures). Joshua and I met through a mutual out-of-state friend and corresponded through the mail with numerous in-depth letters (he is an excellent writer and we're both great at asking questions!). Our letters turned to phone calls and eventually Joshua visited me and my family in Ohio (he lived in Missouri at that time). We had two in-person visits and then our wedding! It was so wonderful to be married and be finished with the whole long-distance courtship thing! :)

4. Have you ever had any funny cooking disasters that you and your husband joke about now?

Oh, my, I think I have had so many disasters that none of them stand out too much. :) I do still tease Joshua about the time he added salt to our mixed fruit instead of sugar, and we still laugh about the horrendous chocolate cake we made for guests one time! :)

5. How and where do you find ideas for new recipes? Does your family like lots of variety or having the same things over and over?

Joshua loves variety, although of course he does like having our favorite foods regularly. He's always trying to tweak things to make them even better, and is quite often the inspiration behind my branching out to try new recipes. He is pretty much always happy when I try new things, and gets scared only when he finds out it was a recipe I had created myself. ;)

I find ideas for new recipes from blogs, restaurant advertisements (like my Papa Murphy's pizzas!), friends' cooking (at their homes or at potlucks), and magazines/cook books (usually gifts, since I don't subscribe to any cooking magazines). :)

Craziness from the boys! Moshe loves it! :)

A couple of anonymous questions:

I dont have a blog but I was wondering what a regular day is like for you?

I am planning to write a more current "day in our life" post soon -- hopefully in a week or two. :) For now, here is a post about our day from last December, and here is another post with random stuff about us. :)

I understand you're religious so it's understandable that you'd be interested in religious reading, but do you ever read any "fun" books? Fiction, or even a silly romance novel once in a while? And what about pop or rock music, are you interested in that sort of thing at all? I think you said you don't have a TV- neither do we. But do you ever go to a movie, or watch a movie or TV show over the internet or at someone else's house? I guess I'm asking if your religion allows any of these things.

My "religion" doesn't disallow things like reading for fun or watching a movie. :)

I loved reading fiction as a child and teenager, and still read children's fiction to my kids. I just don't make time for adult fiction these days. :)

I'm not into most pop or rock music, but I do like some country music -- IF the words are uplifting and in line with Biblical morals/ethics. :)

Joshua and I love watching movies together, although we find we prefer more of a documentary-type movie, since those bring up lots of good conversation and thoughts -- and we love things that get us talking/thinking together! We're not against a mindless just-for-fun movie; we just have limited time and need to be selective. :)

Yehoshua is so gentle and sweet to Moshe!

And, the last questions for today are from Carrie! :)

1. How did you and Joshua meet? (I was thinking I read sometime that you had a mostly long-distance relationship . . . ours was, too.)

This one is answered above! :) (And I'd love to read your story too, Carrie!)

2. What is one of your favorite non-fiction books?

It's so hard for me to just mention one! But I do like The Proper care and Feeding of Husbands. Just don't take that as an all-out endorsement of Dr. Laura though! :) You can read Getchen's review of the book here.

3. How about a favorite fiction book?

The Little House on the Prairie books (classified at our library as "historical fiction")... but I consider them to be more "real" than not. :) For pure fiction, I loved books by Bodie Thoene as a teenager! The Zion Covenant series (my interest in music and WWII history) and the Shiloh Legacy series were my favorites!

4. What is your top weight-loss tip?

I need to keep track (on paper) of everything I eat each day. Count calories and keep myself accountable to someone (by showing them the paper if necessary). Get outside for a walk or other exercise because it really helps me feel better! We have lots of hills here so a brisk walk can be excellent exercise.

Counting calories is my top "weight loss" tip. Getting outside for a walk is my top "getting into shape" tip! :)

5. If you could travel to anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

I would go visit family (or take them with me to Alaska in the summer). :)

Ruth (2) with a favorite doggie friend, Misty

Interview questions: Books, music, clothes, family size, menu planning, desserts, and more!

Ruthster + Moshe's fishie

This past weekend sure went by quickly! Finally, some beautiful sunny weather, and we enjoyed every bit! Kids that get us up early even on weekends means that we really do get to enjoy that early morning sunrise at 5:10am! :) And spending my evenings with Joshua (and usually tag-along Moshe who likes to stay up late!) left no time for finishing this post. Ah, well, this is perfectly good Monday Morning reading material in my opinion. ;)

Ready for 8am morning Bible time w/mommy!

I have more questions to answer! If you want to play along, scroll to the bottom of this post for the rules! :)

These questions are from Tereza:

1. What is your most favorite and least favorite parts about apartement living?

One thing I love about our apartment is that the layout is so efficient! It feels cozy and homey most of the time... unles it's a mess; then it feels small! :) We're surrounded by trees, so it also feels rather private.

I like being on an upper floor because we don't have to use the heat much at all, and the floors stay warm. (This becomes a downside in the summer though!)

We also really enjoy the heated outdoor pool here in the summer. Last year the kids did a lot of swimming, and they already have this year as well! What a life of luxury!! :)

Things I don't like: carpet in the dining room, having to try to keep the kids quiet because of neighbors below us, not having a yard for the kids to play in, and I think that's about it. :) I actually like apartment living a lot better than I thought I would when we first moved here! I think it will be nicer for the kids when we're back in a "real" house of some sort though. :)

2. Do you plan on having any more children and what are your views on letting God plan your family size?

We do hope that God blesses us with more children! For us, we don't have a set family size planned. We're open to God's blessing and leading in this area and don't feel bound to either "side" of the birth control debate, if I can call it that. :)

I think birth control and family size is a personal issue between a couple and their Creator! I can appreciate arguments on both sides and can't come down firmly on either side. :) We feel very blessed to have our four children and pray for wisdom in raising them to be Godly adults! :)

3. Which blogs are your most favorite?

Oh, boy! :) I like blogs written by people I know in-real-life, because it helps me keep up with what's happening in their life. Facebook has replaced a lot of my friends' personal blogging though!

I like blogs/bloggers that are encouraging and willing to be honestly humble with an optimistic approach, and that give me some real-life practical help -- either helping to focus my mind on Godly things or giving me something practical like a menu idea or cleaning tip!

I don't read as many blogs as I'd like, due to time restraints. :( There are a couple I read daily, and the rest are in a feed reader there I can catch up once a week or so! I wish I could name specifics, but there are so many good ones, I'm sure I'd leave someone out! :(

4. Do you still hang dry your clothes indoors during this crazy wet summer and what methods do you use?

Aack, no, I haven't! We hardly turned on our heat all this past wet winter, so nothing really dried indoors. Due to the combination of factors (small apartment, very wet and humid weather, not using any heat) I've just been using the dryer.

I did get my "apartment clothesline" hung back up last week though, and am scoping out sunny days to dry things out there like I did last year!

5. How long do you nurse your babies and how do you go about introducing them to solid foods?

In short, I nurse as long as the baby wants to. :) So far the longest any have nursed was 18 months. We've started solids whenever the baby seemed ready, which so far has been between 10-11 months old. We just use table food, starting with cooked veggies. I wrote more details about baby food here! :)

6. Could you show us how you organize the childrens clothes for all seasons?

I store winter coats/jackets (1 coat and 1 jacket per child) in a closet. They each have 1-2 dressy outfits that hang in the closet, also.

Everything else is in drawers. There are 3 drawers per child: 1 drawer for bottoms (pants, shorts, skirts), 1 drawer for tops, and 1 drawer for socks/underwear/pajamas/etc.

Everyone's shoes are in a plastic storage drawer thingy by the door. The kids each have 3-4 pairs -- running shoes, crocs, sandals, and dress shoes. I think 4 pairs is really too many, but I'm not sure what to eliminate (probably either sandals or dress shoes!) and all were given to us as hand-me-downs, so for now I'm allowing it... but as their feet grow bigger, shoe storage becomes a more space-consuming issue! Multiply 4 pairs times the number of walking people in our household... and it's 20 pairs/40 shoes!

Eliyahu (4) loves his math book; it involves glue!

And 5 more questions (not sure who these are from!):

1) Do you plan daily/weekly/monthly menus or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

I used to basically never make a menu plan, unless I was expecting a baby! Now, most weeks I make a menu for the week. It's gotten easier for me and there's lots of perks to having it planned! I still end up changing about 1 meal per week and doing something different from the menu plan though... :) You can find lots of my weekly menu plans here!

2) Do you bake/experiment with your children, or do you do it when they are in bed?

I usually involves one or more children. I won't lie; it's much more relaxing to cook by myself or with Joshua! But I have a long list of things I'd like to do when the children are in bed (reading, working on this website, spending time with Joshua, or SLEEP some myself!) and so most things that can involve the kids DO involve the kids. :)

3) What type of music do you like to listen to? Books you like to read?

Music! I like classical, a cappella, bluegrass, acoustic... When I first signed up with SwagBucks and started earning $5 Amazon gift cards, I was able to buy several CDs that I'd been wanting for a long time-- Tone Poems, Awesome God, Stealing Second, and Skip, Hop, & Wobble! I got them used on Amazon.

Some of my favorite musicians are Hilary Hahn, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Elliott Park, and... oh, there are too many to list!!

Books -- I like helpful Christian books (for myself) or children's books (for the kids)... Joshua has an extensive personal theological library and the kids have a bookshelf of great thrift-store finds, but my personal books only fill 2 small shelves... not counting two totes of piano and violin music though! :)

4) Where do you like to buy clothes for your children?

Garage sales, thrift stores, and GoodWill! I love hand-me-downs even more, and thankfully we rarely actually truly need to purchase anything in the way of clothes. Grandmas who give new socks for gifts -- that's awesome in my book, too! :D

5) What is your favorite dessert? (A recipe would give you 10,000 bonus points!) ;-)

Eeks! I love sugar, chocolate, real whipped cream... scones... apple pie... I have way too many favorites and you can find recipes for them here! That's like over 100 recipes so how many bonus points do I get?? ;)

Okay, time's up! I'll answer more Q's this upcoming weekend! :)

I love this little game; after all who doesn't like getting to ask and answer such a variety of questions? :) I'll have more to answer this weekend, and eventually I will post links to everyone who has gotten/answered questions from me, as well! :) Thanks for playing! :)

If you want to play along:

1 - Leave a comment with your blog URL, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your blog with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Cheesecake girl, dinner with Leah, and baby smiles

Ruth (2) wants cheesecake...

Ruth (2) was watching me photograph a slice of cheesecake (recipe not yet posted, as we're still experimenting and testing a new cheesecake pan). She came back with a fork and gave me this mean face when I told her she couldn't have a bite right then! :)

Happy Ruth

She was willing to smile for the camera though! :) Ruth's hair is so pretty down, but must be pulled back at meal times to avoid ending up in her food! :)

Flowers from Leah

On Friday night, we were blessed with a visit from another Seattle-area blogger! Leah (from Leah's Favorite Things) and her husband came for dinner. The kids went crazy over them, and were sad when bedtime came (which was almost right away). Moshe stayed up and gave cute smiles while we all played Taboo! :)

Baby Moshe

Sweet little Moshe, taking a nap. He is such a cute little blessing and we all love him so so much! I never get tired of cuddling with him. The "baby time" is so precious and short, I don't want to let go!! :) Thank You, Yahweh, for our children...

Moshe, too wiggly for a clear photo

And when he's not sleeping, Moshe is wiggling! This week he became a pro at rolling over (back to tummy!). He'll be joining the "big kids" soon! ;)

I couldn't get a photo that wasn't blurry, so I took a video of him. :)

And... I guess that sums up our week! :)

The end of a rainy May

What to do when it's rained all week (and the apartment complex runs the sprinklers every night, too)? Play in the puddles! :)

It requires a bath afterwards, and a load of laundry as well, but the children have a lot of fun being allowed to just splash -- and wade -- in the big puddles. We're still waiting on the weather to turn warm and sunny here... and it really better! I will be sad if the sun doesn't shine as much as it did last summer.

I get to cuddle with sweet Moshe while the older children run around outside. Moshe is so sweet and the kids often ask me to turn him towards them so he can watch their tricks! He is a real favorite around here. And no wonder: he's often smiling, always ready to listen, loves to snuggle, and enjoys all the commotion around here. :)

I snapped this photo of Yehoshua "babysitting" for Moshe. Yehoshua ended up fallng alseep there, and I found Moshe just quietly looking at his big brother. :)


I've had the pleasure of getting "interviews" with a few friends! Here are their questions to me, and my answers. See the bottom of this post for the rules if you want to play along! :)

Questions from Elizabeth:

1. What is your "dream home" like? How many rooms, how much land, etc.?

I think some land would be nice (a few acres), for things like a garden, animals, and kids playing outside. As for the home itself, I think I would choose these rooms: living room, eat-in kitchen (WITHOUT CARPET; this is my main concern! haha), 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, and a room for Joshua to use as a library/study/office. I know Joshua has mentioned wanting a nice (dry) unfinished basement for things like ping pong and kids' toys. And since we're talking "dream" home, I may as well add a 2-car garage! :) I wouldn't want a large home to have to clean/care for, but yet it would be nice to be able to practice hospitality more easily, and with a large(r) family, I'm guessing that means ~1500 sq. ft. or more...

This is a hard question for me, though, since I don't foresee actually getting my "dream home" any time soon and the easiest way for me to be content right now is to not daydream. ;) It helps to be reminded of those who have so much less than we do, like our precious sponsored child through Compassion International. It's hard to feel justified in wanting "more" when others have so little.

2. What is your favorite thing about living in WA so far?

Our friends and family here. :) Going to church regularly. Seeing mountains and ocean and the long summer days that aren't too hot to get out and enjoy!

3. What kind of homeschooler do you consider yourself? By which I mean, do you lean more towards unschooling, strictly text books, unit studies, classical education, etc.?

Can I choose "some of everything"? :) And I'm such a novice homeschool mom, seeing as my oldest child is only 6. So far we're doing some text books, but we do a lot of "real life" learning too. :)

4. Have you always enjoyed cooking and kitchen creativity or is this a more recent development? Did you cook a lot growing up?

I didn't cook a lot growing up, but my mom did/does, so I've learned from watching her and asking questions. I could cook when we got married 8 years ago, but it's really been since that time that I have branched out and done lots of cooking and tried lots of new things!

Both Joshua and I enjoy cooking but I do get tired of it. I get interrupted all the time these days, with 4 kids underfoot, so it's not as relaxing as it once was. The good part though is that I've learned a lot of new healthy EASY meals and can still get a home-cooked dinner on the table and spend time nurtuting my children. They are definitely more of a priority than cooking as a hobby right now... :)

5. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Are you content with life as-is or do you have a few dreams and goals?

I try to be content with how my life is right now, but I do have some dreams and goals! I hope in ten years, I am more loving, more Christ-like, kinder, more generous, less selfish, and closer to God. We'll have teenagers by then and I pray we can maintain a sweet closeness as a family.

Ruth (2) with her sock monkey and Moshe's quilt

Questions from Brandy:

1. I remember you used to study Hebrew. Are you still doing that? Are you teaching your children Hebrew?

I studied Biblical Hebrew for a short time when Joshua and I were first married, but that is as far as I've gone. :) Our children know a few Hebrew blessings and some Hebrew words from Bible discussions, but we haven't formally taught them Hebrew.

2. How do you feel about your cooking blog now that you've been at if for nearly four years?

I love that so many of our family favorites are on this website by now; it really is handy to have my recipes properly typed and all that. I like looking back at my old blog entries and reading about the things I was doing 3-4 years ago! So I guess in general, I like having a more established website.

I've learned SO much from the many helpful and knowledgeable readers that take the time to read my blog, and I also really appreciate the kindness shown towards me and our family. I feel so blessed by all of you!! :)

3. What's the biggest difference in your life since moving from Ohio to Seattle?

The biggest difference? I think that would be the traffic! Traffic on I-5 near Seattle is very different from traffic in a small town. :P

But thankfully, I don't have to deal with traffic very much, since I'm home a lot. So maybe housing is the biggest difference of all the "differences" that affect me!

And then there's the mountains, the tall evergreens, and the hills. About as different from NW Ohio as it could be! :)

4. What's Joshua going to do with his degree? (I know this isn't about you, exactly.) ;-)

Write and/or teach, on the Scriptures and Biblical topics. I think he has an amazing calling in this area! I can't wait to see where YHWH leads him/us. (He's finishing his BA in Theology with an emphasis on Biblical Hebrew.)

5. What's your dream house like?

Oh, this is a popular question! See the top of this post. :)

Moshe (4 months old)

Questions from Heather:

1. I was reading back on your journal, you homeschool? How is that going lately?

Homeschooling. Well, I guess it's going pretty good! :) I'm still working on ways to make school fun for Yehoshua (6). We try to do a little each day; e.g. 15-20 minutes of math, 10-15 minutes of reading, a page of writing, etc.

I'm not planning to take a summer break, but we do take off whenever Joshua has a day off work, and sometimes for other special occasions (maybe 2-3 days per month total) and those little "mini breaks" are so nice!

2. Tell me about the kids, milestones, age, personality, whatever!

Yehoshua (6) and Eliyahu (4) are close in size and do many/most things together! They love running, swimming, playing with cars, playing games, and eating! :) Yehoshua also loves video games and would play them all day if he were allowed. Yehoshua is sensitive and caring; Eliyahu is sweet but also very tough.

Ruth (2) is just starting to put together sentences that we can understand. She's a sweetheart motherly type who helps me take care of Moshe (the baby), laughs a lot, and loves her dolls. :)

Moshe (4 months) is a sweet baby... just learned to roll over when I put him down on the floor to play! :)

3. What are the big things going on in your life right now?

So far this year, we had our fourth child, our other children all had birthdays (and I did too!), we bought a minivan, and we sold our car. :)

The next exciting thing coming up is my brother's wedding here in WA in July, and then in the fall we will probably be moving.

Aside from a few odds and ends left to take care of, I'm hoping to be done with "big stuff" for a little while. I feel like I need a breather! :D

4. Are you going to update more? :-)

At my LiveJournal, probably not very often. I like the archive there (basically our first 4 years of married life is chronicled there) but don't really have the time to write any more than I already do here. And I much prefer to blog on my own website! I do still use LiveJournal to keep up with friends who post there. :)

5. Tell me a little about your faith.

I was raised in an Independent Baptist church and got saved when I was 5. During my early teen years I went through a time of basically rejecting Christianity and then choosing (again) to accept it with my whole heart, believing for myself rather than just because it was what I had been taught.

I never did stop studying the Bible and questioning things, though. I guess being homeschooled had made me a good independent learner! I did tons of reading and had lots of long conversations (debates, really) with our pastors and many others (anyone who would listen, actually!).

When Joshua and I first met, I still considered myself essentially a Baptist, even though I believed in keeping a 7th-day sabbath, wasn't celebrating Christmas, and was calling Jesus by his Aramaic name, Yeshua. :)

But my faith in a nutshell... I guess I would say I'm a Christian, I worship Yahweh (the LORD) who created all things. We attend a Messianic congregation on sabbaths, for study and fellowship. :)

If you want to play along:

1 - Leave a comment with your blog URL, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your blog with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Personal stuff, recent photos, and life

Ruth (2)
Ruth (2) intently looking at... something. I can't remember what! :)

Family updates and personal, off-topic posts have been rare here in recent months. One of the main reasons for this has been the huge amount of recipes and cooking-related things I have photos for and plan to write about.

The "food stuff" really never ends, so I've decided each weekend I'll try to have an off-topic post with pictures of the kids, ramblings about my life right now, or just whatever I feel like sharing. Hopefully this will help me strike the balance I want! :)

Folding diapers? ha, ha! :)
Moshe (3 mo.) was asleep on the floor and my boys who were supposed to be folding diapers decided to put Moshe in a cocoon instead! :)

In many ways, life since moving to Washington has been somewhat of a blur. We came to the Seattle area in November, and I think it was chilly, gray and rainy for most of the next 4-5 months! We did have a snowstorm in December, but even that was only exciting for a few days. Eleven days later, the snow was finally cleared from the apartment complex parking lot and Joshua got to drive to work instead of taking the bus!

In the Spring, as the days started growing longer (and I love the longer days here!) the children and I got out on lots of walks, exploring close to a dozen parks on foot within a 2-mile radius of our home. We had a beautiful summer here last year, with so many sunny days! We really had a great summer, and I forgot how long the winter had seemed.

Baby Moshe
Moshe (3 1/2 months old)

Pregnancy, along with lots of nausea and related discomfort, slowed me down as the days became cooler. (And darker. I will probably always think of winter here as DARK.) This past winter seemed so long, so rainy, and so tiring! And our new neighbors (below) started complaining about our footsteps. Oh, boy.

Little Moshe was born, and though I had a great birth, my body seems to take a while to recover, especially when stairs are involved... and they are definitely involved when one lives in an upper-floor apartment like ours!

Moshe is almost 4 months old now, and the sun is starting to shine in more ways than just Spring. :) I am finally able to use the stairs (without unhealthy consequences), the weather is turning warmer, our complaining neighbors moved out (I think... I hope!!), the skies are clearer, and an added blessing: 3 weeks ago we sold our Sable and bought a minivan! Being able to all ride together again is nice. We feel so spoiled!

Here I am with my sweet little babykins Moshe. He is such a cuddly, precious little guy! It is fun to watch the other children interact with him, too. :)

And speaking of the other children...

The 3 older children

...this photo has probably the worst possible background, but hey, we were trying to get out the door for church and so this was the best I got. It does capture their personalities though! Mischievous Eliyahu (4), caring Yehoshua (6), and smiley Ruth (2). :)

Yehoshu turns 6!

Yehoshua turned 6 in April, celebrated with chocolate cheesecake, cards, and a new t-shirt. Then he started losing teeth; two are already gone and more are loose! This is all very exciting to Yehoshua. :)

Eliyahu (4) mixing up a cheesecake

Eliyahu (4) is my always-ready and very willing helper! He is a big boy (almost as big as Yehoshua) and so the two boys are constantly playing and wrestling together. It's hard to keep them apart if they are both at home (and they usually are). :)


Sweet Ruth loves using the scissors! She has spent hours cutting paper at the table. When she's finished, she picks up all the pieces and throws them away! It's great free entertainment. Now, we just need to find a kid-safe scissors that actually cuts paper easily enough for a 2-year-old...

Moshe sleeping with his daddy

And my favorite photo for last: Moshe and Joshua were resting on the couch and fell asleep together. Aww, I love it! :)

Coming next weekend: Your (personal) questions answered

Frequently Asked Questions

I've been answering my email lately. I am, once again, resolving to do better when it comes to email. I only get a few emails each day, thanks to opting out of basically everything possible, so this really should be doable.

Especially if everyone stops asking me the same questions, over and over and over again!

So, I am writing a long over-due FAQ. The questions I get asked regularly, and more. Anything, everything you ever wanted to ask, so that no one ever need email me again!!

Okay, not really. And I would miss hearing from readers if none of you emailed me to say hi! So I won't divulge everything... but here's a start! :)

1. How do I print recipes from your site? What happened to the "printer-friendly" versions?

Right now, the only way to print a text-only recipe from this website is to copy and paste the recipe text into a document on your computer and print that document.

I know it isn't convenient, and I apologize. In the past we had a printer-friendly option, but it also included every single recipe review (and some recipes have dozens of reviews!) and an ad. That feature also posed problems when Google thought I had lots of duplicate content on this site.

So until my wonderful technical support (husband) finishes his Theology degree and has time to do stuff here for me, you'll have to copy and paste. :)

Fluffy Kefir Pancakes, served with homemade apple topping
Fluffy Kefir Pancakes, served with
homemade apple topping

2. My kefir looks funny. My kefir is too runny. My kefir is too thick. My kefir grains disappeared. Heck, my kefir looks, smells, and tastes completely normal but I want to describe it to you and get your permission before I eat it!

Okay, two things.

#1. I am not a kefir expert. Spend 8 hours researching kefir on the internet, buy some grains (not starter), and start making your own kefir. You now know as much as I do about kefir. :)

#2. Whatever it is that you want to drink, you can probably drink it. If you're still unsure, read all the comments on this post and this post.

3. What religion are you?

This is always the hardest question for me to answer! We attend a Messianic congregation. We love Yahweh (the LORD) and His Son Yeshua (Jesus) and seek to obey and serve Him. We've been saved through the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua.

Religion is such a huge topic. Feel free to comment with more specific questions, if you wish.

You can also check out these posts for snippets about our faith:

Special Days -- scroll down for Joshua's comments

Remembering the Sabbath -- tips for Sabbath-keeping and some discussion in the comments

Our "Messianic" wedding -- which was also frugal ;)

Why we don't celebrate Christmas

Challah for 'Erev Shabbat -- I love challah!

Okay, on to a lighter topic. :)

4. Will you help me troubleshoot my homemade bread recipe?

Unfortunately, not unless I had the time to actually experiment with your recipe.

I am very familiar with our favorite 100% whole wheat bread recipe, as I have made it hundreds of times over the past 12 years. If you use that recipe and something's not right, I will gladly listen and offer my ideas as to what went wrong! :)

5. I'm having trouble with my homemade bread. It's hard, or crumbly, or dense, or doughy, or too dark, or not browned enough, or......

Okay, so it could be the yeast is old, the yeast got killed, your house was too cold, the proofing time was too long, the proofing time was too short, you need to add some gluten and other stuff into your whole wheat flour, you didn't knead long enough, you kneaded too long, or you're using a bad recipe!

It could even be that you made perfect bread and then moved to a new location and now homemade bread is one giant disaster!

There is lots of info online, but you're going to have to do some reading, because it could be any one (or more) of dozens of things that are causing your homemade bread to do whatever it's doing. You can search this site for tips on homemade bread. :)

I also recommend the King Arthur's Flour website, which is a wealth of information and recipes. They even have a toll-free baker's hotline, so you can call them to ask what went wrong!

6. How do you eat the kinds of foods you have on your website without gaining weight?

I don't. Actually, it's all about portion control. And we eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies! :)

7. What kind of camera do you use?

I used to use a Konica Minolta. Last year, I got a little Olympus, intending to use it for pictures of the kids. (I got this Olympus on sale for $99 on Amazon.com. Like the bread machine, the price on Amazon varies a bit. Watch for a low price!)

Two cameras was too confusing, so I ended up using the Olympus for food photos as well. I just use the auto settings. Some day I'll learn how to really take pictures! :)

8. So how *do* you take food pictures, then?

I divulge my secrets of food photography here. (Ha, ha!)

Any more questions that should be answered here? Ask in a comment below! :)

The birth story of Moshe Paul

Moshe's little feet...
Moshe's little feet

We thank Yahweh for a beautiful, peaceful birth of our little son Moshe exactly 4 weeks ago today!

I seem incapable of writing a short birth story. Although it's been weeks, I remember every detail. Most of those details make it into my story. Some do not. Use your imagination if you wish! ;)

Moshe, 3 weeks old

Friday... the end of another work-filled week. Even though I'm tired, I give a hearty effort to have a productive day and be ready for a restful Sabbath.

This particular Friday, January 22, I am on my feet and busy about the house since our alarm went off at 4:50am. Our youngest child, Ruth, is turning 2 the next day, and Joshua's parents are coming for lunch at our house. Such excitement!

The children and I make a pumpkin sheet cake and a poppyseed chicken and asparagus casserole for tomorrow's birthday meal. We do our usual school work, laundry, cleaning... and everything else. By the time dinner is served and the kitchen cleaned up, I'm exhausted.

"I'm SO glad it's Sabbath!" I remark to Joshua, and he readily agrees. After playing with the kids for a while, we brush their teeth and send them off to bed. They were worn out, falling asleep quickly.

I drink several bottles of water. I must be dehydrated, because these Braxton Hicks contractions are rather strong...

I suddenly realize that I've been up for 14+ hours and haven't sat down, aside from dinnertime, a single time all day. I'm not surprised that my body feels so achey... a warm shower sounds like a good ending to the day.

As I comb my freshly-washed hair, I look at the clock. "Honey, what do you think about just heading to bed right now?"

"Well... it's only 7:15. I don't want to go to bed quite this early... How 'bout I read to you?"

Moshe, 3 weeks old

Joshua and I snuggle close in our bed and he starts reading from The Promise-Plan of God by Walter Kaiser. His reading is interrupted with my questions, and I soak in explanations of systematic theology, covenant theology, and "promise plan".

But my mind is wandering. Another contraction? I really need to go drink some more water.

I go back to giving my full attention to the book, trying to comprehend what Kaiser is saying. Oy. I understand things much more quickly when I'm reading it with my own eyes!

And I'm so tired...


These contractions are noticeable, yet mostly painless. Regular, yet so far apart.

Maybe I am in labor.

And if I am
in labor, maybe I will be giving birth in the next couple hours! (Ha, ha. My previous labors have been 7 hours, 3 hours, and 85 minutes long.)

But... I'm probably not in labor.

Moshe, 4 weeks old

"Tammy? Are you awake?" Joshua's voice pulls me from my fuzzy sleepyness.

"Ummm. I think... I fell asleep. Maybe we can read more tomorrow..."

I get up from the bed and head to the kitchen, drinking a bit more water.

Maybe I just need to walk around the house a little, and these silly Braxton Hicks contractions will subside. I wander between the kitchen and living room, tidying random objects and putting away the clean dishes I had washed earlier in the evening. But nothing subsides.

Rats. I am too tired to be in labor right now.

It's 9:30 pm, and Joshua puts aside his book. "Well, I'm going to bed."

It's 9:30 pm, and I'm feeling confident enough to break the news. "Ummm, Honey? I'm sorry, but I think I'm in labor right now."

Joshua's reaction is, of course, excitement! He suggests I call our midwife, and hops in the shower.

I call Charlotte, our midwife, at about 10 pm. My contractions are very regular (3-4 minutes) but not very long and I can still easily talk through them. I'm definitely in labor, but it's all so mild.

Maybe I'm one of those women who can dilate to an "8" without much pain! Wouldn't that be nice! Whee... what an easy labor.

I assure Charlotte that there's no immediate hurry to get here, but that I would like her to come soon since she lives an hour from our house. I convince Joshua to go to bed and get some sleep, telling him I will wake him when I need to.

I putter around... drinking my beloved pregnancy tea... pulling out the box of birth supplies... and getting more and more tired.

Eliyahu holds Moshe

I sit on the couch with my hot mug of tea, relaxing. I can still sit calmly through contractions, unlike any of my previous labors. So strange!

So nice, in one sense, to be in labor but remain composed and carry on conversation as normal. But not as nice when I realize how very tired I am getting...

Charlotte arrives with two assistants at 12:30am. I feel embarrassed as I let them in.

I look normal. I'm acting normal. I'm not in any great pain, even during contractions, which come steadily. Will they think this is all in my head?!

I close the bedroom door where our other three children are sleeping. The apartment is dim, and we all speak softly.

The midwives bring in lots and lots of stuff. Suitcases of stuff. Oxygen tanks. Fishing tackle boxes. And then pillows and sleeping bags!

They take my blood pressure, and we talk about how I'm feeling. Joshua gets up, and we listen to the baby's heartbeat. Lying down, the contractions are stronger than when I'm up. Charlotte says that some labors do produce stronger contractions (and thus progress faster) when the woman lies down.

Our apartment feels packed with stuff and people. I feel like everyone is waiting on me. I've called all these people here... now, I'm supposed to be having this baby.

My contractions aren't getting any closer, and all I feel is pressure (emotionally). They've only been here 10 minutes, but I can feel myself getting tense... and I know this isn't a good sign. I need to retreat.

Moshe, 2 weeks old

"I think maybe Joshua and I should go to bed and try to get some rest before things really pick up."

Everyone agrees, and the midwives roll out their sleeping bags on the carpet as Joshua and I head to our bedroom. As our door closes, I sigh.

"It feels nice to be in here, just the two of us. I need to forget that anyone else is even out there."

Joshua and I lay down together. I again convince Joshua to get some sleep. "Just because I'm in labor doesn't mean everyone else needs to miss a whole night's sleep!"

Joshua does sleep... and so do I. My contractions are waking me up, though. I'm so exhausted that I fall asleep for a few minutes, waking midway through the now-painful contractions. Waking is disorientating and I reach the point where I cannot relax at all lying down.

It's nearly 2:30am, and I'm pacing the tiny floor space in our bedroom. I place my hands on my hips and sway through each contraction. I'm trying to be quiet, as Joshua's breathing tells me he's truly asleep. Our living room holds two sleeping midwives. Another is sleeping on the floor in the dining area. And three children are asleep in the second bedroom.

I'm surrounded by sleeping people. Ahhhhh!!!! I need... more... space.

More contractions. More swaying. More trips to the bathroom.

The house is so quiet. The clock is moving so slowly.

Why in the world did I ever want to have a home birth? I could be relaxing in a hospital bed right now... oh, this is crazy. I'm so tired and these contractions really HURT. Abba, help me...

Surely I'm getting close. I think I'll ask Charlotte to check me. I'm probably, like, 7 or 8 centimeters by now.

I timidly wake Charlotte, and she is happy to check me.

"You're 2 or 3 cm... fully effaced... you're doing great!"

Oh, my. I should NEVER have asked.

Two or three??!! That is SO not possible. I could be in labor for days at this rate. I mean, I know that, like, getting to a "7" usually means you're getting close, almost there. Getting to a "2 or 3"? People do that before labor even starts.

I smile. "Okay. Thanks for checking me. I'm gonna go back to bed."

Moshe, 2 days old

I do go back to the bedroom, but I don't climb into bed. I pray, and pace as best I can, and try not to look at the clock, since it seems like it changes so slowly.

Two or three... I guess I have some work ahead of me. Probably a lot of work.

But I only make it another 25 minutes before I wake Joshua.

"Honey, I need you. My contractions are really strong. Charlotte checked me at 2:45 and said I was 2-3cm. I just need to lean on you and hug you..."

Joshua, sweet man that he is, hugs me and holds me through a contraction and then we leave the stuffy bedroom for the living room.

I sit on the couch between contractions. During contractions, I pace the floor. I wake Charlotte, have a contraction, and feel my water breaking, all at once. I run to the bathroom, and the cotton bath mat makes a nice sponge as I stand through more contractions, holding onto the door frame and Joshua.

At my request, Charlotte checks me again, and has much better news than she did 45 minutes earlier. Eight!

The midwives pull out chux pads and stuff to cover our couch/carpet, and Joshua and I go to the living room again. I soon feel a little "pushy", but wait until my body feels completely ready before giving in. My water breaks again (the rest of the way?) as I push.

I give birth standing/squatting, holding onto Joshua, very similarly to how Ruth was born (except this time we have a midwife to catch the baby!). I love that the midwives stay back, out of our way, and just let us have our baby...


The relief of feeling the warm, wiggling body has me exclaiming "Oh, our baby! Our little baby! Oh... look at him!"

What bliss to lie back against the couch, holding a tiny baby boy... who we called Moshe Paul. We praise Yahweh for His strength, care, and blessing in our lives!

Moshe with his siblings
Moshe sleeps, surrounded by his wild and loving siblings!

Welcome, Baby!

Baby Moshe
Moshe, 10 hours old

Praise Yahweh! We have a sweet little baby boy! Moshe Paul was born at 3:59am on January 23 (Ruth's second birthday). He weighed 7 lbs 14 ounces and he's just the cutest little thing!!

Yehoshua (5) woke up when Moshe was about 45 minutes old, and his first comment upon seeing the new baby was "I missed it AGAIN!" since he also slept through Ruth's birth 2 years ago (and wishes that some day he might be awake when a baby is born at our house!).

Baby Moshe

Eliyahu (4) woke up not long later, and came to the couch where Moshe and I were resting. He asked a couple questions and then, as Joshua wasn't in the room at the time, said "Does Dad know about this??!!" :)

And Ruth (2) ...well, she wishes that her "birthday present" could be carried around like her doll baby! :)

Moshe and Tammy

Moshe Paul was named after Moses and Paul in the Bible. Moshe is pronounced "MOE-shay". And one of these days I'll manage to get a picture when his eyes are open!

My labor with Moshe was longer than my previous two labors, lasting over 8 hours. Very different for me mentally, even though in the end I wouldn't say it was more difficult than my 3-hour labor with Eliyahu. But I'll elaborate on all that when I type up a birth story! :)

I've been resting and enjoying Joshua's immense help with the household and other children, as he's home from work this week. Things are busy, but we're so blessed! :)

Pregnancy update (36+ weeks)

I've posted one other update during this pregnancy, back in November, and time has managed to slip by without any new pictures... until this week! :)

Here is Ruth watching me try to photograph myself, her, and the "baby belly"! :)

And... now we know why I was recently asked by a little girl if I had a ball under my shirt! She was being serious, so I explained that it's actually a baby in there. ;)

So, anyway, I'm not one to get stuck on "due dates" but we should be meeting our new little baby in the next month or so! :) We're getting excited!

I've been trying to work in all the fun late-pregnancy stuff like filling the freezer (almost FULL!) and taking lots of naps. :)

In between...

Yehoshua and Eliyahu

...the craziness of my two sweet helper boys...


...and Ruth's wild attempts at being "a big kid"! :)

Other pregnancy tidbits:

Names: Unlike the other 3 times, we don't have a set boy's or girl's name picked out yet. We're thinking we might need to get to know this baby outside the womb a little before we choose his/her name. :)

Energy: As long as I'm getting plenty of sleep (bed time and naps!) I have energy. Which is good, since for the first 6+ months of pregnancy I wasn't very energetic at all. :P The baby inside me, however, seems to have unlimited energy morning, noon, and middle-of-the-night! Should be interesting to see what sort of personality emerges... and I know I'm not running out of room inside yet! ;)

Baby stuff: Is washed and ready! So fun to pull out the newborn clothes and remember the other 3 that wore them! :) A friend loaned us a very nice bassinet for the new baby... what a blessing! Other than that and a car seat, we don't really have any "baby gear". I'm hoping that clean clothes/diapers, mama's milk, and my mei tai will be all we need! ;) Oh, and the loving older brothers and sister... and Daddy time too! :)

And... Ruth just woke from her nap, so I guess I'll end with that! :)


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