Bits of my life

Sitting down to write a new blog post opens so many possibilities. I usually have numerous post ideas waiting to be used... and my camera's memory card is nearly always bursting with photos of recent meals, just waiting to be shared.

And then I like sharing just normal stuff from our life, too. But how to fit it all in?! And it's nice to try to stay on-topic just a little bit... since there are plenty of blogs written about normal life stuff...

But this evening I got an email from Annie H., encouraging me to share more about our life.

I'd love to know what it is Joshua does and how you are able to save enough money to order things like the water filter system... or wait until you're out of everything to go grocery shopping and how the two of you met and courted... and what your routines are like throughout the day and what your growing up was like and whether you rent your house and what you and Joshua do for fun and...

Sooo... :)

I'll start with a Q&A from someone else's blog (I think this is the first time I've ever posted something like this!) and then answer some of Annie's questions. :)

What is in the back seat of your car right now?
Three child car seats and some tissues.

Name 3 people who made you smile today?
My three children (and Joshua too!).

What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Trying to wake up and figure out what I should make for lunch. I stayed up way too late last night talking to Katie on the phone! :)

What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Answering email.

What is your favorite board game?
We like the Worst Case Scenario Survival Game. For non-board games, I love Boggle and Taboo! Garage sales are a great place to get games.

What is the last thing you said aloud?
"Love ya" (to Joshua)

What is the best ice cream flavor?
Extra-creamy chocolate...

What are you wearing right now?
Denim skirt, green/grey/white striped t-shirt, barefoot, with my hair in a bun. :)

What was the last thing you ate?
Rice cakes. (I don't buy those, Joshua does! But I help him eat them...)

Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
No. But I got the shirt I'm wearing at a garage sale last week!

What's the last sporting event you watched?
Figure skating on You Tube. :)

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If I could take my family with me -- I'd go to Seattle to visit Joshua's side of the family. :)

Who is the last person you sent a message on MySpace/Facebook?
I actually don't use either! I do chat through Gmail sometimes though... mostly with Ruth. Chatting can take a lot of time though! :)

Have you ever lost anything down a toilet?
Not since I was a little kid! ;)

Do you use smiley faces on the computer a lot?
Yes, I do. I have to restrain myself from over-using them. And I still use them a lot!

Do you drink your soda from a straw?
I don't drink/like soda.

What did your last text message say?
We don't have cell phones. :)

What are you doing tomorrow?
Going grocery shopping, making cabbage casserole for dinner, and washing diapers and work clothes... that's what comes to mind right now, anyway. :)

Where is your mom right now?
Probably in bed! She gets up at 5:30am every day. :)

Look to your left.....What do you see?
Ripe tomatoes from our garden.

What do you think of when you think of Australia?
My friend Ruth...

Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?
We tend to go in. Fast food is really gross when it's cold!!

What color is your watch?
Plain... white face, brown strap... but the battery has been dead for several years so I don't wear it.

Last person you talked to on the phone?
My friend Sheri, whose family is taking us to a private park of sorts on Thursday. Joshua is bringing his grill! We were planning the lunch menu. :)

Any plans today?
Earlier, the children and I took a very long walk and were able to see a train close-up. ;) It's quite a ways to the train tracks, and then to wait around for a train, well, there is really no good place nearby to wait. We were blessed to be able to watch one train go by and the boys LOVED it!! They talk about trains all the time.

Are you happy?

Where are you right now?
The kitchen.

Biggest annoyance in your life right now?
Crumbs on the kitchen floor. :P

Last movie you saw?
Hmmm... I can't remember! It's been a while. Probably National Treasure 2, which took a long time to watch due to interruptions... I think I forgot half of the important details and then I fell asleep near the end. I am not a very good movie-watcher. :P

Are you allergic to anything?
Cashews and pistachios.

Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
Anything I can slip on really quick to head out to the clothesline or mailbox! :)

Are you jealous of anyone?
Not unless I am grumpy or something. The majority of the time, I feel very blessed and thankful! It's hard to be jealous when God has blessed us so richly.

Is anyone jealous of you?
I hope not! Everyone's life has its own trials and blessings. :)

What time is it?
10:55 PM.

Do you eat healthy?
Usually. Having a grain mill has been a huge blessing in this area, since we eat a lot of grains. I am also thankful for a husband who loves variety and trying new things! :)

What do you usually do during the day?
Change diapers, do laundry, make meals, clean the kitchen, help my boys brush and floss before bed/naps, do school work with Yehoshua, check on the garden, take a walk, pack a lunch for Joshua, take a shower, pay bills/keep after the clutter, take my vitamins, and probably tons of other little things! :)

Do you use the word 'hello' daily?
Yes... when the boys wake up, when I answer the phone...

How many kids do you want to have?
At least 3. ;)

Do you know the last person you kissed?
Ruth. She's soooo kissable!

How old will you be turning on your next birthday?

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
No, but I've been to Cedar Point!

How did you get one of your scars?
I was carring a canning jar full of my mom's dill pickles and I fell. The glass cut my right knee. (I was 5 at the time.)

What are you excited about right now?
Bethany said she is sending me something. Surprises always make me excited and curious! And who doesn't love mail?! :) I'm also excited because Yehoshua is nearing the end of one of his school books (preschool math). :)

If you actually read all of that, I'm amazed! :) Now to answer some of Annie's questions... :)

About Joshua

Joshua works at a factory right now. In the past, he has been in the Air Force as a flight medic, worked for a web hosting company, and done web development here at home. He's the one who takes care of the technical stuff for this website... making my "idea" for a cooking blog into a reality!

Joshua is a hard worker and spends his free time either with the children and me or else reading books on Biblical topics. :) He's working on finishing up a 4-year theology degree through a distance learning program.

Saving money for "big" things

We're actually very frugal in a lot of areas, and have learned to keep our expenses minimal. During a particular period of very little income, we had to cut out anything extra just to get by. I really recommend Money Saving Mom's frugal articles and advice. I also have most of my frugal-minded posts located here, which might give even more of a glimpse into the things we do or don't spend money on. :)

The Berkey was a big purchase to us, too. I feel blessed that we have been able to afford several large items this year -- including the Berkey and our grain mill.

Since we were already buying our drinking water, we figured out that the cost of the Berkey would be recouped in a year's time, and after that we would be saving in excess of $20/month... plus less frequent trips to the store (we can now wait longer than a week to go grocery shopping, since we won't be running out of water!).

How we met and courted

Joshua and I "met" through a forum online, but since my opportunities to use the internet were rather limited we corresponded through mail. (My parents still don't have internet access at home -- and when I lived there, there wasn't a single computer in the house!) I had written to numerous penpals throughout my teenage years (Money Saving Mom and I were penpals when we were teenagers!) so writing letters was nothing new for me...

As usually happens when two perfectly compatible people meet... we decided we wanted to get married. Our letters turned to phone calls. Joshua came to visit my family on two different occasions, and then a few months later we were married. Joshua is everything I knew he would be -- and more! We couldn't be happier. :)

Growing up...

I am the oldest of 6 children (the youngest is 15 right now). My parents were married for 8 years before they were blessed with children. I lived the first few years of my life in the same town where we live now. Then, my parents had saved enough money to purchase a farm, so we moved out to the country.

When I was little, I didn't always like or understand why we didn't have the money to do all of the fun things I saw other people doing. I learned a lot of my frugal ways from my parents. They were very careful with their money. It was always interesting when others would express envy of things my parents had saved for -- because numerous times those people actually had better-paying jobs than my dad, who worked in a factory.

I went to public school through 4th grade, and then my parents decided to start homeschooling. I was excited about being homeschooled, and was grateful to remain homeschooled for the remainder of my formal education. :)

Music was a big part of my life, as I played piano and violin. I also loved writing letters to my penpals and reading. Some of my normal chores at home were dishes, vacuuming, hanging out laundry, helping in the garden, and helping with my younger siblings. I did get plenty of free time though.

I finished high school right before I turned 18. I had saved most of my babysitting money throughout my teenage years (another rule I didn't always like at the time!!) and was able to go to visit 2 of my penpals, and then buy an inexpensive car and start working full-time at a small grocery store here. I actually only worked full-time for about 2 years, and then I go married. :)

Oh -- yes, we rent our house. It's a 2-bedroom house and it's not huge but it's big enough. :)

I will have to do a "day in my life" type of post again soon... it's been a while! :)

What we do for fun...

Fun? :) Well, we like to have company over. We like to play games. We like watching dvds but the time for that sort of thing seems to be getting scarcer and scarcer. :) We like to go on walks. I love garage sales. Every now and then, my mom will offer to watch the boys while Joshua and I have a "date"... we usually stay home, make a nicer easy meal (like grilled steaks! yum!) and just hang out together. We love to talk. We never have enough time for all the talking we'd like to do... or kissing...

Most of our time is spent with our children, so a lot of our fun things at this stage of our lives ends up being stuff the children like to do. The boys love it when Joshua plays outside with them, or we set up the racetrack, or get out legos, or even just read stories!

Joshua and I like to cook, too... but these days it's more challenging to try to cook together while watching 3 children. :) So it's not as relaxing as it once was... :)

Sooo, there's a little more about our personal life. :) If any of you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to reply! :)


That's me and my husband's favorite board game too! I love it! :D We got all our friends into it too. :)

And if you come to Seattle, we'll have to have dinner or something :D


A meetup in Seattle sounds like fun. :) I hope we do get to go back before too long... it's already been 3 years since we visited.

that was super fun!!

That was a fun read! :D

It's always nice to get to know a bit more about people who I "visit" regularly online.

What a sweet post. I feel honored that you have shared a glimpse of your life with us.


you with us.That was nice to read and I did learn a lot out of that.When you think you know some one you learn more and more things about them.

Mrs. Paradis

I love to "get to know" better folks whose blogs I read. (It's 'specially nice when they like homeschooling, cooking, children, and pen-pals!) :) And smilies. :):):)

You are so sweet. Thank you for answering my questions...and more, besides! It was fun to read and learn more about you. :) We like board games, too. And talking and kissing. :) A penpal courtship is something new! And I'm impressed you don't have cell phones. I'd like to get rid of ours, but it never seems to happen. My husband or my parents always come up with one reason or another for needing it. Anyway, thank you!! :)

Thanks for updating us about you. I do have a couple more questions. Can you share more of what you pack in Joshua's lunches? My dh works very hard construction 12 hrs/day and no microwave use. Also, what advice would you offer for me as I have an 11yodd homeschooling her and she is not content w/us NEEDING to be very frugal right now as we need to be paying down debt. So, yes she gets jealous and asks why we can't do what other people are doing, etc. what made h/s fun for you? I'm not totally unschooling or relaxed about it, we do use literature guides and math books. Whew! I guess that's it for now. I enjoy your blog -thanks Lisa

Hi Lisa!

Here is a post I wrote a long time ago about lunch box ideas. Joshua doesn't have a very long lunch break (12 minutes I think) so I try to pack quick things. 

We did use curriculum for homeschooling -- I went through the A Beka program. School work was not always fun for me, but it was just one of those things I had to do in order to get certain privileges.

I can remember one rule being that no desserts were allowed until that day's school work was finished. I also wasn't allowed to check the mail/read my mail until the school work was done -- and since I had a bunch of penpals, I really loved checking the mail!! ;) I guess the "modern-day equivalent" would maybe be no internet/computer until school was finished... or something else, just as some motivation to not procrastinate and just get it finished. :) 

The frugal part -- my parents have been frugal for as long as I can remember and so things like asking for something at the grocery store or something -- my siblings and I never asked for stuff at the store because it was just never a possibility. We didn't even really know that we COULD ask for stuff -- and when we figured it out, it didn't work anyway, sooo... ;) My family went on a trip/vacation for a week ONE time -- when I was 14. Other than they they never traveled. So I never really expected things to be different...

I think the things I wished for were things like nicer clothes, a nicer house, a cd player... I can't remember what else. I always felt like other people had nicer things than we did. In a way that was true -- we lived in a very old farm house (that house has since been demolished)... As I got older, I stopped caring so much and started being more thankful and content and just enjoying life. :)

Does you daughter have any ways of earning money? I was able to baby sit (at home with my mom's supervision) when I was about 12, and it was fun to have a little spending money! I was only allowed to spend 10% of what I earned (10% was tithe and 80% had to be saved) but it was enough to buy postage stamps to fund my penpal addiction. ;) Maybe you guys could brainstorm some ways for your daughter to start earning her own money! :) And then go to garage sales to spend it -- it goes so much further that way. :)

I also think a really great way to learn contentment is to spend time with people who have less than you do. If it seems like "everyone" is doing things your family can't afford, perhaps you could find some friends who have less and do less... I know, easier said than done. ;) But instead of feeling "poor" or left out, your daughter can see needs and bless others. :) 

Do you think it would help if she understood why you want to pay down/get out of debt? I think Dave Ramsey has written some picture books, or you could work on reading one of his adult books with her.

Hi. I'd like to know more about your faith and beliefs. I've noticed that you have long hair and wear skirts. Some women I know do the same. Is this "called for" by your religious beliefs or is it a personal choice? I dress modestly, but am struggling to be more modest.

What are your religious beliefs - are you associated with a church/temple group? What are the basic values of your faith?

I think Joshua is going to tackle this question in more depth when he has a chance, but --

I do think that long hair for women is set forth in the Bible (1 Corinthians 11) though of course the term "long" means different things to different people. :) I like having long hair, and have always worn my hair between shoulder-length and waist-length -- or longer. :) I like variety and I don't think Scripture prohibits cutting my hair, so every now and then I donate some to Locks of Love. :) 

I wear skirts and dresses because I am comfortable dressed like that (I was raised dresses-only) but my only conviction regarding clothing is that it must be modest. I don't see a pants vs. skirts argument in the Bible, personally. :)

We are messianic (Joshua explained a little more about our faith in this comment). Our faith is founded in our Heavenly Father (Yahweh) and His son -- Yeshua (Jesus). We believe in the Old and New Testaments and seek a holistic understanding of Scripture with and emphasis on continuity. :)

We have been redeemed through the blood of Yeshua, and seek to love and serve Him as a way of showing our devotion (not as a means of obtaining redemption). :) 

That was a fun post from you! Some of the stuff I already knew but the rest was fun to learn!

And I agree on the kissing part... never enough time. :)


Thanks for the post! It's nice to hear more about your background, and every day life! =)
Being frugal becomes such a part of life, and I think it's so exciting then how we can make a good big purchase because of having being so frugal. My husband is a student by long-distance (getting a Master's in theology), so only works part-time. We live on that and people wonder how. Frugality becomes a way of life. =)
I was wondering why you rent though? Would it not be much more frugal to buy your own modest home? We bought a small home (2 bedrooms) that needed a bunch of basic work and have been working on it as we can afford it. It's been such a blessing to have our own home, as tiny as it is. When we pay it off next year, we'll be saving so much.

We rent for various reasons... if we purchased a home right now we'd be spending a lot of money on interest, property taxes, and maintenance. I know mortgage interest is tax-deductible, but we don't earn enough money for that to affect our taxes. So, we feel most comfortable renting right now. :)

Thanks for the inside glimpse! That satisfies my urge for gossip, without the gossip part! Better for my soul!
You have a great family life to brag about, I am so glad you did and I look forward to learning more. You know how it is in blog-land, all us readers feel as though we know you ( a friend and I often have conversations involving you and Crystal Payne, such as: I am making Tammy's chicken and squash bake tonight)
You should consider a weekly tidbit to get us through the Friday evening to Sunday gap!

Thanks- Heather K

What a great blog!

Tammy, thanks for that little look into your life.:)

Your water filter looks wonderful. I think that maybe we should start saving for one. Right now, I'm determined not to have a car loan, so we've been working hard making extra payments.

Recently, I purchased a used grain mill on eBay. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.:( The buyer was wonderful and refunded our money, so I'm looking again for a new mill. This time, I believe we will buy a new one.


Fun to read! It is nice to read about what you are cooking etc..., but reading about you personally is great. :) The Worst Case Scenario Survival Game made me chuckle, we had quite the laughs when we play it at your house. LOL :) Anyway, it was nice "visiting" with you again!

~Tanya - mama to 5 :)

It was so interesting to read about your life and your history.
The burning question in my mind follows.
I noticed that you mentioned the Money Saving Mom blog. Do you do the CVS shopping thing that she does?
I have tried and I must not be doing it correctly. It doesn't seem very frugal to me, to buy things I don't need just to get those CVS bucks. Maybe I just don't have enough time to pursue it the way she does.
Just curious.
Homeschooling mom to Paddy-cake

I have never been to CVS. Our nearest one is about 25-30 miles away and we basically never go out of town or in that direction! :) Here we have Aldi, Wal-mart, Kroger, and IGA. :) Aldi is my main grocery store. I do order some foods through a co-op though (grains, health food type of stuff...).

Crystal has a lot of good articles about budgeting and frugality though -- so I skip the CVS/Walgreens/etc. posts and read everything else. :)

How great to read all of that! Thanks for taking the time to share more pieces of your life with us! It's so fun to get to know you!

Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers

Tammy, I loved reading how you and your husband met. My husband and I met in a Christian singles chat room in April 1999. This November 6th, we will be married 5 years. We talked and chatted on line for over a year, (And prayed) we decided we would meet. He met my mom then and she was totally against the idea. My first husband was not a Christian at all. And of course, the internet was scary and new to her. At church, she told me in front of the pastor and the others, that this was not of God, God would never use the internet. I asked her, "Why not? He used a donkey!" That of course brought much laughter from the pastor and others in the church, but they told her, "She's got a point!" Now, she loves my husband and I thank the Lord for sending him to me. He is so good to me. People should realize God use anything in our lives when we turn it over to Him!
Oh, I also enjoy reading all your articles and seeing your beautiful family! Sorry, such a long blog.

You know, "meeting" through the internet and then corresponding through letters wasn't MY "ideal" way of dating/courtship... I mean, I think it's good to see the other person's family and how they interact in their local community...

I do feel very blessed because Joshua and I are so perfect for each other -- and he was the first (and only!) guy I ever wrote to. It was definitely planned out by Someone other than us. ;) And since we had to rely on letters, we wrote huge ones. ;) Joshua is even more verbose than I am -- one of his letters was 175 pages (size 10 font)!!!! My letters were all hand-written to him since I didn't have a computer. :)

Our parents have always liked both of us and been very supportive. That's a blessing. :) 

Thank you so much for sharing that information. She has'nt "advertised" that she will babysit, I'll look into that. I appreciate your ideas for her. We have taken away her computer/TV/bike/library privelegs when she doesn't obey or complete her tasks. Lisa

I reread your lunchbox ideas. Yes when I am out of bread and hopefully have tortills I make sandwiches out of them but I have to pack at least 3 compared to 2 sndwiches. I'm trying to make homemade yogurt and add our own fruit. The boughten stuff has so much sugar in each container. thanks for redirecting me for ideas. thanks Lisa

I absolutly LOVED your post. It was neat reading about your life. Oh, BTW, I made your farmhouse chicken tonight and froze it for one of our meals for next week - moving week. The kids kept saying all while I was making it - "That is my favorite meal Mom!" So they are looking forward to it next week.

Hope you have a great week.

Tammy-Did you make the quilt in the picture? It's beautiful.

Thank you! :) I didn't make the quilt, but I wrote more about it here. :)

Enjoyed getting to know you better through this post, Tammy!

I would love to hear how you are managing three children in a two-bedroom house. We are in the same situation and I don't know how to make it work! We tried having the youngest children (twins) in the bedroom with us, but we wake each other up. Our toddler son is in the other bedroom. So right now the twins are in the living room, which is pretty inconvenient!

I would love to get all three kids into the second bedroom, but since they are different ages and have different sleep schedules, I'm afraid they'll wake each other up. They go down to bed at about the same time in the evening, but they get up at different times in the morning and their naps don't always line up.

I have 4 kids and 2 bedrooms. The oldest is 5 and goes to school now so she isn't napping anymore. She is also tired at night and goes straight to sleep whether or not the others are noisy. The next is 3 1/2 and he is the morning person in the family. He almost always wakes everyone up in the morning, and he takes a nap in our bed or not at all. Next I have a 1 1/2 year old. She takes one nap by herself in her crib. The baby is only 3 weeks old and sleeps in the bassinet in our room. All I can say is I perfer them waking each other up in the morning to not having the living room at night or older kids in our room. Plus--we all end up getting up a little early and completing more during the day. I understand your situation completly. I was hesitant to have them all in the same room, but really we had no choice. Take the plunge you'll be happy you did. Also, we tell our son that if he doesn't wake the girls in the morning then he'll get speacial alone time with us until they get up. He likes that:)

Jennee Garcia

Thank you so much for sharing. This is a wonderful post. :D

I enjoyed the glimpse into your life very much! Thanks for being open and sharing with us. I had been curious about some of the same questions.

Hi Tammy,

Wow! We have a lot in common... thanks for the comments on my blog, I am so glad to have found yours.

I really enjoyed the info about you. Sounds like such a nice family... and beautiful children!

Yes, we are Messianic. We are in Eastern WA, imports from Seattle (North of actually, Everett area).

So glad to meet you, I'm going to have to spend some more time looking at all you have here, there is a lot!

Jennifer :)

Great post! My question--what are you using for homeschool [always interested!] I've posted so many of your posts to so I remember them! You are very inspiring.
Lisa at

Tammy, loved the post, as I can see others did as well.

As for frugality and teaching children about reducing spending to pay off debt, here are some things we have done that work for us. First, for children who are old enough, we explain how we got into this situation. For us, it is a combination of a failed business deal (which we did not foresee) and spending (back when we thought the business was fine). When the crash came, it was brutal. We chose to assume the business debt and avoid bankruptcy.

The kids have seen us cut our spending. We were never wild about spending, but their perspective is different. When they see me at the store and I buy a mop that wasn't on the list, they have questioned why I get to buy something not on the list and they don't. Nevermind it is a MOP! Looking at it from their view, I have control of the cash and I get to break the "no extras" rule. So I do a couple things. Sometimes I explain, sometimes I wait and then come back another time to buy the mop or whatever. If it is a really good price on something we need anyway, I tend to explain. I do this because I want my children to understand my thought process, how I evaluate what is a good deal and what is not. Besides, if I can't justify my purchase, maybe I don't need it!

We also talk a lot about trade offs with the kids. We love to go to the beach. The kids are willing to save money in other areas, forego privileges and such in order to spend a day at the beach. This gives us an opportunity to teach them to be frugal to attain a goal--and we get to spend a day at the beach too! For us, it is about a 2 hour drive, so we have to figure in food and gas. Sometimes we sleep over, and so we need to save more for that. The kids can be really creative to think of ways to save in order to have something they want.

Sorry I'm getting so long winded. I am blessed that my children are generally content with what we have. I think homeschooling helps too because their contact with other children is more controlled. I have friends with kids in public schools and I am astounded at the sense of entitlement some of them have (and astounded at the lengths the parents will go to to make sure their kids are keeping up with the material things).

I'm new to reading your blog, so this was nice to read!!

God Bless,
Shannon in NC

Hi Tammy,

I love this post -- it just popped up at the bottom of your current post. I must have missed this the first time round. I've been a long time reader and enjoy seeing all the new things happening over the years to my online "friends and neighbors"!

Aww, thanks! :)

Yes, I'm sure a lot has changed over the years since I started this blog! :)

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