Word for 2018: Discipline

I wasn’t going to pick a word for 2018, despite it being the thing to do right now. But two weeks in to 2018, I realized I needed to be more disciplined – self-controlled – in a lot of areas, so picked it as “my word” for 2018. It encompasses a lot of what I have been thinking and reading about in Galatians, and continues on from “faith” as one of last year’s words.

with food
social media
focus on projects/reading
waking girls up and going to bed on time
putting aside my lists for others
my tone of voice
fidgeting/nail biting habits
consistent, loving correction to the girls*
not letting my mood be determined by circumstances**
slowing down to ruminate and process.

Discipline, to let Christ be the Master of my appetites, submitting them to Him, offering them to Him, being satisfied in Him instead of fleshly cravings.

Self-control comes not from saying “no” over and over again… then it wouldn’t need to be a fruit of the Spirit. It would be a distortion of the gospel, thinking I could save myself from my sins by my own will power.
Self-control comes from changing desires: crucifying the desires of the flesh, looking to Christ in faith that He is better.
I’ve posted this quote before, but it’s fitting to share it again:
“As faithful eyes perceive the unseen glories of God and reborn hearts embrace them, all the visible glories of God in the world seem to thicken in substance. The more eagerly we embrace God, the more gratitude we express for His created gifts for us, the more clearly we begin to discern the sinful distortions and the hollow promises of sin.” – Tony Reinke.

*This quote by Paul Tripp is on my mind a lot: “If your eyes ever see and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of your children, it is never a hassle, never an interruption, never an accident, it is always grace. God loves your children and has put them in a family of faith, and He will reveal the need of their hearts to you so that you can be His tool of rescue and transformation.”
**How much S obeys me, how much I get done, not even how disciplined I’m being! Even that is a subtle way of thinking something other than Christ saves me!



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All moved in! It was so quick which I am thankful for! My plan had been to have the changing mat on the trunk again but Someone keeps moving it off so off it stays because I don’t feel like fighting that battle!

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Apparently it doesn’t often snow here, except for all 3 times so far in the time we’ve been here…

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One of my favorite books from childhood, The Clown of God, has become one of S’s favorite. She calls it “Many years ago.”

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I didn’t realize how much I missed cooking until I had a full kitchen again!
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These, however, were made by Ezra – I came home from Bible study to find both girls in bed and him making something for breakfast.

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Finding some good library books, like this one about Charles Ives.

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Ezra finished the shell wind chime we had wanted to make after our honeymoon – after seeing them being sold at tourist traps in La Paz. We picked up our own shells to make it ourselves.

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S sets the table most days.

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Valentine’s Day dinner, with flowers from Ezra for both S and I.

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We were talking about Greek food beyond Gyros and Ezra had never had any other Greek food, so I made Moussaka!

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And salmon was on sale. YUM YUM.

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This chair was damaged right before our move so I decided to try reupholstering it!

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Apparently it had been redone before.
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All done! In retrospect I probably wanted tapestry type upholstery fabric, but it’s more comfortable than it was before!

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We read about berry dye in a book and tried it ourselves.

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Crazy kid.
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I love the postbath footprints she leaves.

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I love these and wish they were cheaper…

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I made her a guitar and she wanted to take it everywhere.

Hymns of the month// I’ve been memorizing one hymn a month and brushing up on another one or two. It’s good for me both for memory techniques and for having the words always there, and S is picking up on a lot of it when I sing the same hymns every day. This month was Jesus, Priceless Treasure, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, and The King of Love my Shepherd Is.

favorite recipes// million dollar chicken // loaded mashed cauliflower casserole (could use potatoes!) // moussaka // grilled salmon with avocado salsa// Pakistani black bean curry // butternut squash lasagna rollups – I put the squash in the cream sauce and just put it over pasta! Same yum, less work // blueberry breakfast cookies – not as good as others I’ve made, but good if you need egg-free //

best of online//  women’s wellness series // catching up on music from Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers – Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms // mentioned in “What Charlie Heard” was Putnam’s Camp, about two marching bands going opposite directions playing different tunes! // foster care in America: ways to help // foster children need the church // I have been reading a lot about Charlotte Mason’s homeschool method and am loving it. This is a good “preschool” summary that I am somewhat implementing with S // helpful gardening website // this is also really helpful for gardening in the PNW // Ezra posted a poem // natural pregnancy by week // Hope for PPD // Should I keep preparing for marriage or is it time to prepare for a single life? // listened to a book on tape about Shostakovich and this symphony became a favorite // reupholstering a chair here and here // Karim Wasfi defeats terror in Baghdad with music: video and NPR article //

reading of late// they Say We are Infidels // Loving the Little Years // The Renewing of the Mind Project // The Biggest Story // More Charlotte Mason Education // Dancing Through It // The First 1,000 Days // Wildly Affordable Organic // Symphony for the City of the Dead // (one of these was on tape, one was to Soraya, and three were mostly read in January and finished in February)

thinking about// “the end of all learning is to know God and out of that knowledge to love and imitate Him.” – Milton // peace & organization as a matter of my heart, not stuff & neatness // healing & sabbatical //

The Munchkins// are changing & growing SO much. S talks constantly about everything and is developing an imagination. E shrieks and giggles and rolls wherever she wants to go.


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Reading Aunt Candace’s Tennyson.

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My mom brought some of my old things, like this dress from Oman

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We spent a relaxing afternoon at the beach
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Our way TO the beach and our time there were relaxing… but then S had a nasty diaper and while we were changing it E started getting hungry, but we decided to risk waiting so we could get home to get dinner going. E got hungry on the way home so we pulled over at a convenience store and Ezra, S, and Candace ran in to get us snacks while I nursed… and a mosquito got in the car. So we ate our snacks while chasing down the mosquito. And then took a wrong turn on the way home…

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Only 2 plates – Ezra was gone for a few days and my mom and Candace were gone too.

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gifts for E from my grandma

 photo 12 October - jinbei 8_zpsfusxbrdl.jpga summery enough day to put both girls in their jinbei… for all of 5 minutes.

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you can nurse a baby and crochet at the same time in a pinch (= baby needs to nurse half an hour before you go to a birthday party and the gift isn’t finished yet).
Also, E’s outfit is a Japanese one. But based on their baby clothes, Japanese babies are wide but not long… this is the smallest size I can find (3-6 kgs, so should be perfect) and she is swimming in it but it only reaches her calves…


 photo 19 October 3_zpspgmonidy.jpgwe stumbled across a band practicing and S chose to stay there rather than go to the playground.

 photo 19 October 1_zpsruutmc1i.jpgsince E has been born I have been trying to involve S more in chores, so she still feels like it’s special time with mommy or playtime but she’s learning and I can get work done! She especially likes sweeping and playing in the water while I do dishes.

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one of the hardest moments this month was receiving a baby gift from my great Aunt. My great Uncle passed away at the beginning of September and the grief had been overshadowed by E’s birth, until I received a card that was just from her and not from them both.
We knew it was coming for a while, then knew it was close for a month, but thought we had longer, that he would hear of E’s birth. But we celebrated her twelve days after we began to mourn him.
I will forever be so overwhelmed with gratitude that we got to see him in good health last summer and that he got to meet S, and all the years before that he fed us spiritually and welcomed us as his own grandkids after Grandma Elizabeth died.
It’s different to walk through grief when it’s so much closer than ever before, and even more different with a toddler watching. To say ‘Uncle John is with Jesus now.’ In tears makes me wonder what goes on in her head – why is mommy crying that he is with Jesus if Jesus is so great?
May we all meet again on the other side. || earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal

 photo 19 October 14_zpsiv3hql2v.jpgWhen E turned a month old, it was a year since we had been in Japan for almost a month. I hadn’t really met anyone outside of our work community and while they were (ARE!) so fantastic with physical support I was starving for the kind of community we’d had through Church in San Diego, despite having tried so many churches in that month. I remember thinking a number of times “I could never have a baby here.” Well… God obviously changed things since E is 1 month old (we celebrated by taking our first trip in the car and out in town alone… E celebrated by spewing all over me the minute we stepped into the store…). A friend of a friend connected me with S, who got me involved with the English Class and connected me with W who told me about Bible study and another church. As soon as we walked into it I was so positively overwhelmed because I KNEW that was our “place” and we could have a baby here.
Now almost a year after that, it’s amazing to look back and see all the friendships that have grown in that time and how in the last month that’s turned into so much help and support for us as we have welcomed E into our family – knowing someone that has been there with postpartum depression and can ask me upfront about that, others babysitting, being willing to be at the birth, bringing meals, sitting with us at church to help with S, coming over to hang out while Ezra is at work… God is good… and excited as we are to go to Washington it will be sad to leave Japan in only 2 months.

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the weather was still warm but the leaves were finally turning and falling halfway through October!


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S may have had silent reflux, but E spits up more! I feel like I have to bring a whole change of clothes everywhere I go! I cut out gluten and dairy and haven’t been eating beans, broccoli, cabbage, etc. and there is improvement, but we also noticed she had a really hard time nursing sometimes so have been better about burping her and she hasn’t spit up as much.

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preparing to move by sorting through all our stuff. My first and last (at least for now) pairs of ballet shoes. The first pair is now in S’s dress up.

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S asked me to sing, so I asked her to bring me a hymnal. She ran off and returned with Handel.

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Went up to the clothing store after getting groceries and scored some wool socks, a flannel, warm pants, and a rain shell that fits in a little bag. I hate the cold but at least I am a little more prepared now. It was actually my first time buying Japanese clothes for myself. I have always been too nervous to without trying them on – sizes here are so different. I am still getting used to often being a medium!
And while I browsed the racks, S enjoyed pushing the almost kid sized cart around the store.

favorite recipes// I’m thankful to have not cooked much since E was born! With my mom, Ezra, and meals from Bible study I cooked for the second time when E was 6 weeks old. So most of these are recipes others made for me. 🙂 // yogurt flat breads // elderberry syrup (it’s cold season!) // hearty chicken stew with butternut and quinoa // nut and coconut free paleo muffins // apple pie breakfast cookies // grain free banana coconut “cookies” (much better than expected!) //

best of online// abide with me (my friend sings it better though!) // raising my Ebenezer (posted before, but such a ray of hope for me in these days of adjustment) // what it means if your mind wanders while you practice // dear mom who refuses to rest (I LOVE how this wasn’t so much about physical rest as doing what makes YOU feel rested. With few exceptions, naps usually just make me feel like I wasted time since I don’t fall asleep) // how do we prepare our children for suffering? // School of ABT Workshop Live from the Lincoln Center // May you not be weird and 30 other prayers for my future husband // simple advice about mommy advice // spiritual depression (sermon) // to moms of one or two children (so helpful. #2 I think is what makes the second baby easier – you find “your way” sooner… and also are better about “mommy advice”) // comparing and contrasting healing diets // We watched My Love Don’t Cross That River (on iTunes, not sure if the trailer-only rental has been fixed on Amazon) and really enjoyed it // 10 Diagnostic Questions for Your Marriage and 10 Ways to Grow Your Marriage While Having Kids (also previously posted but always good to reread!)

reading of late// Walking with God in the Seasons of Motherhood (Kruger) // Let Me Be a Woman (Elliot) // War and Peace (Tolstoy)

thinking about// lots on adjusting to two kids, finding “our way,” how the second kid is easier, and postpartum depression. I hope to blog about all of that more in the future.

what brings joy// S kissing E // walks with a stroller and ringsling // quiet moments with just S // E smiles // His presence

The Munchkins//
S i
s almost 2! She repeats pretty much anything we say and will pick out words from songs and sing them. She adores E and is sad when E has to sleep (but then gets jealous when E is nursing…).
E continues to amaze us with how well she sleeps and how easy she is! Our only complaint is that she’s a bit of a night owl and likes to comfort nurse but won’t take a pacifier which is only a problem since I have too much milk so we have some cranky evenings because of that, and sometimes lots of spit up. She smiled pretty much right at 5 weeks and her first smile was at S.

writing// nothing on the creative writing front, but I expect it to be quite a while before I get back to that, if I ever do. But I wrote one and polished a second paper for the counseling certification I am working towards!


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S eats the crust and leaves the bread.

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My dad was able to come through for about 24 hours

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I wanted to take him to the curry/noodle/tempura place we like, but it was packed when we got there so we found another place that was also delicious!

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gathering sticks, rocks, and leaves

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yummy tea that was an early birthday present from Ezra’s family

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“We can watch gymnastics… she’ll enjoy it but I don’t think she’ll pick up on it.”

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I really really wanted chicken noodle soup, even though it was super hot outside.

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She walks so well now; we don’t always need to take the stroller.

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Cicadas are everywhere, and they are HUGE.

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S loves playing with the exoskeletons.

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My yukata!

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We went to an event at the church near us and had an enjoyable evening of curry and sparklers.

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This was a piece of leftover cheesecake from when we celebrated my birthday early. I was saving it in the freezer for my actual birthday… but the stress of typhoon season meant I ate it a week early.

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Watermelon here is SO good, and we made a big salad with grilled chicken, watermelon, feta, and a lime balsamic reduction.

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Tea party to keep us busy during the typhoon

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New reeds!

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Ezra took the morning of my birthday off of work and made me breakfast!

favorite recipes// pumpkin cheesecake banana bread (used 1/2 amounts of honey instead of sugar) // mint chocolate milkshakes (I added spinach, and once everything was nicely blended, I threw in some chocolate chips and pulsed it a few times so it was more like mint chip ice cream)

best of online// Story of Iran’s Church in Two Sentences // Wasted on Children and one that goes along with it, that we first got from my parents – Saturation Love // I’ve been trying to buy less new stuff/shop more locally/support smaller businesses in general lately, and this just made me want to do that even more (found after it seemed like I had received a counterfeit diaper cover. Thankfully it wasn’t, just a very new version of the print) // Why Christians Should Participate in the Arts // Parenting in the Age of Binge-Watching // Managing your wardrobe pregnancy, postpartum, and all the sizes in between // Should children sit through big church? // Moment at Dawn – live in concert // the history of classical music in cat GIFs // in case you ever wondered what John Denver in Japanese is like // You Could Have Been Something // some thoughts on forgiveness // how a nursing instructor discusses abortion // When you want to do great things for God //
***Birth beyond all odds in war-torn Syria

reading of late// Write, Sell, Repeat // In the Womb (photo essay book)// Grace Works! (Bond) / The Peacemaker (Sande) // Illusion (Peretti)

thinking about// What are the needs in my community and how can I meet them? How can I show love to those around me?

what brings joy// S snuggling and rubbing my belly // time to read // playing piano // S’s language developing

The Munchkins// I can’t believe we’re about to have two on the outside! S is talking more and more and putting words together a lot. She loves bugs, balloons, and reading. She got really upset when I held a friend’s newborn this month, so it may be an interesting adjustment!

writing//After taking some time just to read and think about writing, I’m starting to work on Javi’s Cafe again // a good and helpful talk on writing // learning a lot from K.M. Weiland’s blog 

20 Years Ago

I think my 3rd birthday was my most important birthday. And I love this photo because it’s really the only photo we have that comes close to showing why: the little cut by my left eye. I got it the day before, a scrape from the road when I got hit by a car the day before.
I only have very vague, dream-like memories – the car was white, the screaming woman that got out had frizzy reddish hair. But I remember every year, and every year am grateful for every year of life I have been given since then, and every day I get to spend with Ezra and S, and all the people I love all around the world.


Special treat/protein for after my glucose test.

Beach day with friends

Guess the flavor!

Miso from a friend… full story coming later.

The bugs are coming out! Thankfully I’ve yet to see anything worse than a cockroach.

the ladies all brought treats for our last English Class.

She is obsessed with her towel and wears it all day long when we’re at home. She hates baths, but maybe because of that the towel is a comfort item since it signals snuggles at the end.

Fuji Safari Park!

Watch your step or you’ll turn into a bunny?

Ready to get on our jungle bus to feed the animals!

feeding lions. S loved being so close to the animals, but it freaked me out a bit to have her so close to them.

I’m so glad we’re in Japan because I’ve been craving sushi this pregnancy.

Japanese playgrounds are so much more exciting than American ones!

Preparing to lead a Bible study by going back through some Csehy notes

A friend who plays viola came over and we played some duets, my on the violin part with my oboe.

Another friend and I hiked on Fuji – no summitting since I’m pregnant, but I still wanted to hike). Separate post coming!

favorite recipes// cucumber basil avocado gazpacho // polenta pancakes // slow cooker chicken taquitos // salmon broccoli divan // matcha pineapple smoothie – delicious with an avocado thrown in! // pineapple popsicles // no fuss eggplant parmesanno fuss eggplant parmesan (added some lemon juice and lemon zest) // crunchy roasted chickpeas 

best of online// 7 questions to ask an older mother // some thoughts on announcing pregnancies early // the problem with the Pinterest wedding // what kids around the world eat for breakfastwhat kids around the world eat for breakfast // Bach Prelude with animated graphic score – pretty neat and would help me with memorization, I think // good parents connect not just correct // little eyes are watching in worship // how to talk to your children about transgender issues (appreciated the comments on gender stereotyping) // an elegiac fugue for Dr Hsu // 12 signs you’re breastfeeding a newborn (this made me laugh)

reading of late// Red Rain // HypnoBirthing // finished Compelling Interest // Redeeming Childbirth // Knowledge of the Holy // Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth // Secrets of the Baby Whisperer // King’s Warrior // To End All Wars

what brings joy// cuddles from S // gentle baby kicks // hiking // rain // sushi // recording Ferling Etudes

The Munchkins// we had another ultrasound and baby #2 is still definitely a girl. 😉 She’s also still very active! S says new words every day, some of which are hilarious and make no sense (she calls bananas “golego” and kombucha “dubadub”), loves her friends, and loves to make us laugh or do things she thinks are silly.

writing// Read to Win is still going on! // A new prologue for Faith Victorious



We started and kept a ginger bug going for a bit. We loved making ginger ale with it but it was so much work to keep up and ginger isn’t cheap when you’re going through it so fast!

20 weeks pregnant, needed a smoothie after S was in bed, so we made it on the porch.

I got buttons for all the sweaters I made at a 100Y store.

WE DID IT! Aside from a recipe in the condiments section that requires out of season turnips, we have made every single recipe in Jerusalem! Blog post coming. 😉

She loves her baby doll (one of my old toys), and “mommy’s baby.”

Because not much can be better than a savory donut filled with curry.

Our first kaitan-sushi (sushi-go-round) sushi experience.

Everyone is starting to complain about heat and humidity and I’m sitting here thinking ‘I’m cold and no way is it humid’ – until I made bread and after a 24 hour soak I had to add extra flour because of all the extra moisture it had absorbed from the air.

She’s such a social butterfly.

For our English Class fun day one of the teachers taught us all how to paint Fuji.
The only reason it looks like anything is not due to my painting skills but her teaching skills. The ladies at my table commented on the pink in the sky saying ‘sunset’ but when they saw the pink on the mountain they said it was erupting…

We had a change of pace in work for Ezra for a few weeks, which was really nice. He had much shorter hours so we got to eat breakfast together every day!

Bamboo forest!

Because Ponyo and Mei are a pretty good summation of S’s personality and they were pretty much the only things in our budget at the Studio Ghibli store.

We went out for curry.

With the warmer weather, we’ve been trying to get S to not hate baths by leaving the bath thing alone for a while and just enjoying water play.

Good food for thought in Resounding Truth – review coming!

Poppies ❤

Our fist time roller sliding. It’s a big thing here, but S was NOT a fan.

She didn’t like the slide, but the orange by her feet is the roller slide mat, which she’s claimed as her own to drag around everywhere.

new cookbooks from Ezra!

And mint chip cheesecake!

I tried to copy the melon soda here by putting melon into water kefir. It didn’t taste quite right, and the melon had a huge reaction with the kefir and exploded everywhere when I opened it.

Also, we felt our first earthquake! The notifications from our phones were scarier than the earthquake. It was a 3 or a 4, but didn’t last very long and I don’t know if I would have noticed it if our phones hadn’t gone wild. It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in Japan for 8 months and hadn’t felt one until now. We missed one of a similar size when we were in Sapporo, though.

favorite recipes// ginger bug // moroccan chicken salad with pistachio encrusted goat cheese // pesto & cheese stuffed (or topped, we didn’t stuff) chicken // hot chocolate smoothies // pumpkin apple-pie muffins (grain free) // healthy ginger ale // raspberry brie dessert pizza // rhubarb chai cream pie (needs more chai) // handroll sushi // aji de gallina (a Peruvian dish Ezra remembers having once growing up) // eggplant involtini (the lemon in this makes it amazing. We used rice instead of breadcrumbs because we had an overload of cooked rice) // curry and yogurt braised chicken // frozen whipped jello (I’ve made this before, but expect I’ll make it again lots this summer!) // legume noodle soup // rhubarb crumble ice cream (used this for the ice cream base, used 1/2 c honey and a splash of water instead of 1 c sugar & 1 c water in the rhubarb sauce, and subbed honey for sugar 1:1 in the crumble) // mint chip cheesecake (a favorite of mine, but this was the first time using a “healthy” recipe! It turned out great. I used real cream cheese and subbed flour for the cornstarch) with this crust, which needed a bit of coconut oil to pull it together //

best of online// 10 Things You Should Know About Motherhood // Should I Self-Publish? // Don’t Serve God // Rescuing those taken by ISIS // What screen time does to kids’ brains // 6 things to stop telling your toddler (not 100% in agreement with all this but good food for thought) // 8 Considerations for Christian Parents // Share Your Knowledge With Writers // Disability Awareness for Kids // volunteers are fueling the growth of orphanages in Uganda // Victims of Boko Haram are shunned by their communities // the first explanation we’ve read of how non-thermal EMF could cause damage that seems legit // some good thoughts on women teaching men // I’m not all on board with hypnobirthing, but a friend was telling me to look into the breathing the baby out technique after I told her how much I hated pushing with S. Here’s a good video (no nudity) // I bought tickets to a ballet here in a few months and was watching some of our favorite excerpts – Le Corsaire, and two versions of Flames of Paris // something reminded me of this song when I was reading to S so I played it for her and she liked stomping along //

reading of late// Resounding Truth – Jeremy Begbie // in the midst of The Knowledge of the Holy (Tozer) and the audio version of Compelling Interest.

what brings joy// falling asleep to the sound of E & S breathing // hand-me-down clothes for S from neighbors // yummy food // nursing S to sleep – treasuring all the moments that will change before or after the baby is born // waking up to S singing

The Munchkins// S is saying SO MANY words and repeats things if we ask her to. She is developing a goofy personality and loves to make us laugh and tease us by offering us food and then taking it away. And is still our social butterfly, waving to everyone and saying “hi” and “bye.”
Akachan is a very active girl, and we are pretty sure we have her name picked out but aren’t announcing it just in case.