Our Family

Outside of "blog land"

I love blogging, but the really good part is taking things into "real life".

A hundred recipes on a website don't really do any good if my family is eating PBJ for dinner. A motivating post about homemaking is useless if I spend all my time and energy staring at a computer screen thinking about doing things instead of actually doing them.

And while I love sharing bits of our life here in my blog, it's even more exciting to sit down and actually spend time with folks... in "real life". :)

Crockpot Pizza, Creamed Asparagus, and some veggies

About 6 months ago, I was blessed to meet a local blog reader. Living in a somewhat rural area in NW Ohio, in a (relatively) small town, I think we were both shocked to discover that we lived in the same town! :) We've made good use of living in close proximity, with lots of visits and meals between our families. :)

It's fun to have a local friend who's passionate about many of the same things as I am. :) I'm passing along my love for receiving blanket diapers and homemade cloth wipes, and she's introducing my boys to goats and chickens. Oh, and I swapped some of my excess asparagus for some farm-fresh eggs. I know, I know... I got the good end of that deal! :)

This morning, she and I headed out to some garage sales in a nearby town. Have my regular readers caught on to my budding garage sale addiction this year? It's Joshua's fault for encouraging it, along with the fact that my children keep outgrowing their clothes... ;)

When we got home, it was lunch time. I had some crock pot pizza ready, and warmed up leftover creamed asparagus over pasta, along with some veggies.

Yes, I serve leftovers to guests. Sometimes. Let's just say that the focus was on garage sales, not food. ;) Or, starve your guests and when you finally feed them, they'll rave about anything. Something like that. ;)

Tired little Ruth...

Here's what Ruth thought about it all. By the time lunch was over, she was exhausted. :) She's sucking her thumb in this picture -- something she's really fond of doing. She must take after her mommy (I sucked my thumb until 3rd grade).

Our little photographer

Yehoshua photographs his food...

Our children were given a toy camera, and The Camera has now replaced The Saw as Yehoshua's carry-around-everywhere favorite toy. He "takes pictures" of everything, including... food. Hmmm... wonder where he got that idea? ;)

This was Yehoshua's plate of nachos (without the chips) -- just beans, taco meat, cheese sauce, and some sour cream. Asparagus was served on the side. :)

Garage sale treasures

Clothes for Ruth...

Joshua took us garage-saleing at a nearby town this morning. There were dozens of sales and we walked for about 2 hours before collapsing in the car with several bags of goodies and two very tired children (the boys walked and I wore Ruth in my mei tai).

The boys and their toys

We got several toys for the boys with some gift money that had been set aside for garage sales. I got this complete vintage Sesame Street camper/rv set for $1.50. I honestly bought it because I love all the pieces and it's a perfect "boy toy"... and no batteries or annoying sounds. Now I found it on eBay and it looks like the set's worth more than $25!! What to do, what to do...

First, I love the toy set. I wanted the boys to have fun with it, but they'd just break it after a while (it's plastic, after all). I don't like keeping things that aren't being used and enjoyed, but I don't know if I want to let them play with a collector's item. I don't really want to re-sell it, though... I like it too much!

What would you do??

Joshua just informed me that the box the camper was in is the original box. Oops! Guess I'll take it back out of the trash!!

Innovation of a determined four-year-old

Yehoshua's nutcracker

When I was outside hanging laundry this morning, Yehoshua found an old pecan in the dirt. I have no idea where it came from, but he set right to work on cracking it open. He used a toy hammer on the porch's cement floor, and had the nut open in no time! I told him not to eat the nut, because I didn't know how old it was. He put it on the sidewalk for some ants to eat.

I then told him I would get him a fresh pecan to eat. I got out a pecan (in the shell) and told him he could crack it and eat it. He tried and tried to crack that new pecan, but apparently it wasn't so old and brittle like the last one was. ;)

Yehoshua begged me to open it for him, but I told him he needed to find a way to do it himself. About 15 minutes later, I walked into the living room and he said "I'm cracking it!" as I heard a crunching noise.

Using some supplies from this tool set (which was a surprise gift to the boys from Joshua's parents earlier this year!), Yehoshua had made the above contraption and was using a screw driver to tighten the screw and crack the pecan! :)

We've had so much lovely weather these days. The boys love playing outside, and I love doing laundry when it isn't rainy! I even let it hang out all night sometimes, when there's no rain predicted... is that bad?? :)

My sister Bonnie came over today and helped me with some Spring cleaning. I had been feeling a little overwhelmed because even though the daily stuff gets done pretty well, I just hadn't been able to make enough time for anything extra -- like vacuuming out the car, rescuing toys from the floor vents, or cleaning fingerprints off windows. With two of us working hard, we were able to get quite a bit done in one day! :)

Special days

Yehoshua licks the beaters from the frosting...

I'm still recovering from two very full days of preparation and two very wonderful days of rest and celebration! :) Thursday and Friday were packed with cooking and cleaning (and all the rest of the normal stuff we do each day) in preparation for Passover.

We had a lovely Passover! We read several chapters from Exodus and ate the traditional foods (unleavened bread, bitter herbs, grape juice/wine, mortar). I actually managed to make all of the foods I had planned for our menu and the children really loved the matza ball soup, since I generally only make that at Passover. ;)

Yehoshua's unleavened chocolate birthday cake actually turned out well, as did the frosting (which I had to make without powdered sugar since I was out!). I'll try to get the recipe typed up soon... like I said, I'm still picking up things around here, catching up on laundry... :)

Yehoshua with his unleavened birthday cake

Enjoying Spring

Diapers in the breeze...

It's Spring!!! Finally!!! :) It seemed as though it would never stop snowing here in NW Ohio... and then it seemed as though it would never stop raining!

Finally, some good wash days. The wooden clothes rack in my living room has been stashed away for next winter, leaving some lovely empty space beside the couch. :)

I have been gleefully hanging my laundry outside. Yehoshua and Eliyahu are all-too-eager to "help", and just don't want to come inside. Ever. I even fold all my laundry out there while I take it down as they play. It's still not long enough. :)

Thankfully, both boys are old enough (2 and almost-4!) to behave nicely out there while I work. In the past, there was always one child who refused to listen about staying in our yard/nearby, so this time of "maturity" is such a blessing! Next year, Ruth will be 1 and I'll probably be chasing after her. ;)

This picture of my diapers flapping in the breeze makes me so thankful. Oh, I'm thankful for my diapers, as they were all sent to me from my Heavenly Father in various ways and through various friends... But mostly I'm thankful because that line full of diapers means I have a little one to cuddle and kiss.

My sweetest babykins
I love her.

A bundle of sweetness...

Ruth at 8 weeks...

How is it that babies just get more and more fun and sweet?! :) I can never understand that part. :) Ruth is just a little doll...

Yehoshua loves taking care of "Roof". (He can't quite get the ending -th yet!) :) He is always wanting to be near her (even when she's asleep!) and talks so sweetly to her. :)

Eliyahu is turning into my do-it-yourself little guy. He doesn't ask, he does. I think I already mentioned that he basically potty trained himself. He doesn't ask to go potty... he just goes. Since he's a 2-year-old little boy, this is not always a good thing! But I'm not complaining. ;)

He can dress himself, and he loves changing his clothes several times a day. I gave up fighting this one... the clothes just go back in his drawer (unfolded) until they are actually dirty; then we wash them.

Eliyahu will try anything, and he's so independent. He was always a little more ambitious than Yehoshua, when it came to doing things for himself. But I think that since Ruth was born, Eliyahu has had more opportunities to be independent, and he takes full advantage of them! ;)

Our frugal wedding: Reflections and photos :)

At our wedding reception...

Aline asked about seeing a wedding photo that actually showed our faces. ;) Here we are at our reception. :) I can't remember who took this picture, but it's one of my favorites! :)

I thought that I'd also write a little bit about our wedding, for anyone interested. I've been meaning to write about our wedding ever since I read this post by my cousin Willa. So whether you're looking for frugal wedding ideas, or you just like reading about weddings, here you go! ;)

Joshua and I paid for our own wedding, so we naturally tried to find frugal ways of planning a wedding! :) We actually preferred planning and funding our own wedding, since it meant that we could make our own choices without feeling pressured to do things a certain way. :)

We had a church wedding, at my parents' Baptist church, but Joshua's pastor who is Messianic from the Seattle area flew here to Ohio to perform the ceremony.

Our wedding party

We had a small wedding party -- just a best man and a maid of honor. We asked the best man to wear a black suit with a blue tie. My maid of honor lives in Washington state, so I mailed her a few shades of blue and asked her to find a nice dress in one of those colors. She found a lovely blue dress and her mom altered it to fit her perfectly! :)

Joshua and me...

I found a new wedding gown for $69 on the clearance rack at a bridal shop. It was one of the few modest choices there, but I loved it!! My mom altered it for me, and the bridal store steamed it (for free, since I had bought it there) right before the wedding.

At the receptionI made my own veil from tulle. It wasn't difficult to make, and I added some silk roses at the top, and put white and blue ribbons in it. I think the veil cost less than $5! :)

We did hire a professional photographer, but were able to get an extremely good rate due to several factors.

First, we were married on a Tuesday evening in March -- a day when most photographers aren't booked. :) (But we didn't choose the date for this reason!)

Secondly, because we had such a small wedding party, there weren't nearly so many shots to take.

Thirdly, since Joshua and I didn't plan to do the traditional "don't see each other all day" on our wedding day, we were able to have all of our photos done before and during the wedding, with none afterwards (meaning that our photographer didn't stay afterwards at all). We had friends and relatives who took photos at the reception. :)

In the end, we got about 80 photos plus the negatives (I guess digital wasn't so popular back then?) for $300. That was a LOT cheaper than the other quotes I had found! :)

(As a side note, the pictures I'm posting were scanned and resized several times through the years -- I should have Joshua scan a couple of fresh ones! haha)

Under the chuppah...

We also had a chuppah, which my grandfather built for us. We painted it white and then decorated it. It was huge. (It disassembled for transport.) It was surprisingly difficult to get it to look as nice as it did. More tulle and lots of cheap silk yellow roses... It was nice when it was finished, though! :)

Since I wanted to have as much wedding preparation done in advance as possible, we had silk flowers. A friend of mine who is a florist went with me to pick out flowers, and then I tried to describe how I wanted my bouquet to look. :) She did a great job! :)

Fruit salad...We also did our own food! Okay, I guess you all expected that. But trust me, this was long before the idea of a cooking blog (or a blog at all!) had entered into my mind. ;)

We had the help of friends and family -- we served things like potato salad, broccoli and cauliflower salad, punch, cake, relish trays... oh, and hot roast beef sandwiches. I got the meat on sale and did it up myself and we froze it until the wedding day. Joshua was in charge of making several huge bowls of fruit salad on the day of our wedding! They were beautiful.

We made way too much food, though. There were lots of leftovers! And if I had to go it again, I'd definitely choose foods that could all be prepared at least a day or two (or more!) in advance. :)

Signing our ketuvah...

One thing we didn't do "frugally" was our ketuvah. (Here is a link to the one we bought.) We ordered ours personalized with our names, location, etc. hand-written in calligraphy. Such an important covenant deserves to be beautifully documented! :)

Final thoughts? I think weddings should be how the couple desires... which may mean "splurging" in a few areas that are the most important to them, but doing things simply in other areas. Joshua and I wanted a nice ketuvah, some good photos, and lots of yummy food for our guests. :) We did a lot of things ourselves, with the help of our family and friends. We could never have done it all!!

I'm honestly not sure exactly how much our wedding cost in the end, since Joshua and I lived in different states while we were planning the wedding, and we each paid for different parts (for example, he ordered the ketuvah, and I located a photographer), but we certainly didn't go into debt, and minus the cost of the ketuvah and the plane ticket for our pastor, I'm pretty sure the rest was under $1K. :)

So, there you have it! :)

6 Years

On our wedding day...

I truly think the years have gotten sweeter... and go by faster. :) Six years ago today, I was 20 and Joshua was 24, and we were just beginning our life together. I've grown and changed so much! But I wouldn't change any of it... well, besides all the times I've been selfish... or ruined dinner. ;)

We celebrated our anniversary yesterday due to the availability of our babysitter (my mom). Joshua and I had a nice outing with just baby Ruth along! You will all probably laugh about this, but we went to two second-hand stores, and then went out to lunch at Taco Bell. I love Taco Bell food... and if I'm going to eat out, it might as well be something I can't re-create at home (their chalupas!). Then we came back to our quiet house and took naps before picking up our noisy boys. ;)

Today was catch-up day. I gave both boys haircuts and baths, and did lots of odds and ends. And laundry. Joshua surprised Yehoshua with two of the things we purchased on our outing: Connect Four and Monopoly Jr. Yehoshua enjoyed learning (or starting to learn!) how to play Connect Four, and he absolutely LOVED getting to play the Monopoly game. He had so much fun, and he's learning about counting and adding while he plays! Definitely a good $2 investment. ;)

My to-do list for today was long, but tomorrow's is longer. I'm jotting down ideas for blog posts, but haven't the time (or brain function!) to compose anything worth reading right now. :)

Ruth shows her personality while I practice photographing something besides food

Ruth is so sweet. I know, all moms think their babies are adorable. ;) Ruth is 6 weeks old today! She's still getting over the baby acne, and is starting to give us little smiles!

I've packed away most of her 0-3 month sleepers already, as they were getting too snug. Cloth diapers seem to slightly accelerate the growing-out-of-clothes issue, but Ruth is definitely growing... fast! :)

I love Ruth's hair. I am still delighted that my girl baby has even more hair than my boys did, and this was the pregnancy with no heartburn. Ha! ;)

Sometimes I look at my children and husband and feel so happy and I think this must be a dream...

In the middle of a yawn... :)

This was a funny expression. :) Her cheeks are so chubby! :)

Yehoshua and Eliyahu love it when she sticks out her tongue or smiles at them! :)

In other news... I am also still recovering from the shock of potty training Eliyahu. He's not really talking too much (lots of stuff we can't understand, and some stuff that we increasingly do understand) but last week he indicated that he wanted to use the potty. Less than a week later, he is doing quite well during the day, with so little effort on my part that I'm still in shock! Yehoshua was a few months older than Eliyahu when I potty trained him, and it took WEEKS of hard work.

I feel so blessed by this new development... one baby in diapers is enough laundry! ;)

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