April

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Love our backyard!

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finishing some tea my friend brought us from China

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The rain cover we paid $50 for barely works but the umbrella my Aunt gave us that they got for free works perfectly.

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had the privilege of going to a ladies’ retreat where the speaker had grown up in the UAE and so the food was very middle-eastern themed, complete with baklava. S stayed home with Ezra and Ellie charmed everyone as the only baby there, and I was refreshed and encouraged.

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Ellie has learned how to get into the toy bins.

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homemade nutella on homemade bread

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another use for homemade nutella

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turban squash – unstuffed, and stuffed
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she’s like a dwarf in Smaug’s lair with the rocks at the beach

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turned around in the kitchen while making breakfast and found a note from Ezra instead of a to-do list (he didn’t erase it I’d just forgotten to write it the night before). It was a nice way to start the day!

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Making beeswax food wraps. One thing I love about being in a house is that all our trash goes into our own bin instead of a dumpster so we can see how much we really make, and it’s always a fun challenge to try to decrease the amount. Now that I pack lunches for Ezra we were going through more ziplock bags and I didn’t love a lot of the reusable ones since they still have plastic or vinyl or are not water resistant for things like apple or cucumber or air tight enough for a sandwich. So I’m hoping these wraps help us out in that area!

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we’ve had more sunny days lately

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Starting Sunday trying a new tea and listening to Mahler 3 and Shostakovich 7 || my mother in law gave me some blue lotus chai for my birthday and we have since tried two of their variations, this one being our favorite.

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THIS BOOK. I can’t recommend it enough for anyone in the midst of depression, anyone helping someone through depression, or just wanting to read more about it.

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so… Tillamook makes mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches.

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a highlight of my month: donating 130 oz of milk to a family adopting an 11 week old. It looks like I can donate to them long term which makes me so happy as that’s what I was hoping to do when I started pumping a few extra ounces every night.

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my dad stopped by for a few days and my grandparents drove over to see us all.

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And S had been asking for another tea party so we had a brunch tea party.

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sleeping under my quilt for the first time ever! It’s too warm for our blanket but too cold for just our comforter so I put my quilt on top and it’s perfect.

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Getting my Azure order is like Christmas every month.

Hymns of the month// Ah, Holy Jesus

favorite recipes// chunky probiotic salsa // flourless plantain pancakes // blueberry streusel cake // date breakfast squares (a healthier version of a favorite of mine) // whole wheat sandwich bread – we’ve been struggling with this for a while and we now have three recipes that have worked: one, two, three // baklava bars (I would use pistachios instead of hazelnuts for a more baklava-y taste, and not toast the almond flour as it burns fast!) // aip carrot cake – I made just one 10″ cake in a springform pan // twisted star bread – used homemade nutella instead of jam // karak chai // balsamic lime vinaigrette // pumpkin & sage savory muffins (made these according to recipe but with dried sage, then made again swapping applesauce for pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice for sage, and coconut oil for olive oil!) // pannukkau (Hannah made this for us after Ellie was born and we had to make it again) // whole wheat maple cinnamon rolls (YUM YUM YUM) //

best of online//  10 Lessons on Parenting Little Ones // Jesus will lead you through the valley: loving a spouse through depression // I Survived a Sarin Gas Attack // when women face their curse-ravaged homes // salt dough recipe // a cup of tea in 22 different countries // be open to God’s plan for your family // a Haydn mass // reusable food wrap // when motherhood feels overwhelming // vectorizing hand lettering without photoshop // why your kids shouldn’t follow your diet plan – good thoughts on food in general // one thing your son needs //

And the best: A Message To Those Who Kill Us.
My comments:
In Mindy Belz’s book “They Say We are Infidels,” she made a comment about ISIS about how difficult it is to defeat those to whom death is viewed as victory.
She didn’t continue that thought, but my thoughts went further: ISIS may see death as a victory, but even as they attack the church this Passion Week, the world should know that the followers of Jesus win when we die, and we can say THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU and I FORGIVE YOU even to those that seek to kill us.
But read this, because he says it all much better.
“O, you lucky, lucky, lucky ones! And until it is our turn.
To our God be the glory now and forever. Amen.”

reading of late// Rime of the Ancient Mariner // Hungry Planet // Always Ready // The Singer & The Song (Calvin Miller) // Missional Motherhood (Furman) // Spurgeon’s Sorrows (Eswine) // The Ology (Machowski) // The Land I Lost
Also skimmed: When the Darkness Will Not Lift // Finding Faith in the Dark // A Sacred Sorrow // Give them Grace // Hints on Child Training // Give Your Child the World

thinking about// healing & rebuilding after PPD // phases of sabbatical and moving beyond the “just stop” part // Hebrews 12, pursue peace with all men includes my children and affects how I plan my day // podcasts – never got into them before and don’t love how “chatty” they get but still encouraged by Jess Connell (Mom on Purpose), Risen Motherhood, The World and Everything in It, IBCD, and Sally Clarkson (At Home With Sally).

what brings joy// sunny weather & blue skies // fog // understanding more about my PPD

The Munchkins// fill our days with laughter and craziness (and if we’re honest a good does of crabby for all of us too, see above).
Ellie is eating more solids. She gets so grumpy when we eat unless she gets to chew on something too. So we recently started with our mix of babyled weaning + WAPF + GAPS, especially since she started sitting. I need to make more broth, and she hates carrots, is OK with avocado and the broth, likes egg yolk, and adores gnawing on cucumber sticks. I love helping her explore food but the transition makes me sad as up to that point it was entirely my body that grew and nourished her which is an awesome feeling (and now i have to start thinking about carrying food for her too!) And we hope to keep nursing a good long while more!
It’s also nice not to have to worry so much about reactions to food since Ellie hasn’t had the stomach troubles S did.

And S hadn’t ever asked for anything before but she had been asking for and talking about a bicycle for a while so when I saw one on the resale page we had to get it. She loves it.

March

March felt so long! Looking back at photos from the beginning of the month I can’t believe it was just the beginning of March that stuff happened.

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after talking about it for about 2 years we finally got one and spent the rest of the month testing it out.

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tiny pinecones

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church starts at 1 PM so we play games in the morning after brunch
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Yorkshire puddings before they deflated

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testing out some different ice cream making methods.

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our morning plans fell through so we had a tea party

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Ezra surprised me with the whole wheat cinnamon rolls from the local coffee shop.

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pi day: tamale pie & lemon meringue pie

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a crochet project that finally went right

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we did a craft with some footprints, and this was my way of keeping S out of trouble while I did Ellie’s… letting her have the ink on her own paper!

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deep frying some dandelion flowers!

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enjoying our field guide!

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she adores za’atar.

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these squirrels are evil. They’ve eaten all the heads off of our bulbs and even dug up garlic (which they supposedly hate). I’m not sure how we’re going to have a garden.

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loving seeing our neighborhood come alive!

 Hymns of the month// memorizing: Day by Day // brushing up on: Hallelujah, What a Savior!

favorite recipes// chocolate avocado pudding // raw chocolate snack bars (more like dessert and it made an 8×8) // chocolate cashew ice cream // making ice cream without a machine // grain free Yorkshire puddings // egg-free grain-free breakfast cake // happy adrenal power smoothie // rosemary seminola olive oil bread // healthy caramel pumpkin dip // tamale pie // lentil spinach pancakes – not just for toddlers // homemade coconut milk // peanut sesame slaw // slowcooker baked beans – just don’t add tomato till the beans are cooked! // endurance crackers // cake batter balls // closest thing I’ve come to “real” paleo fudge //

best of online// x-plan giving your kids a way out // the light at the end of the tunnel // why kids ask why // bare naked gratitude // a curse for us – the death of Christ (sermon) //ever wondered the best way to store bread? //if you give a toddler lunch //15 Things I want to tell my TCK// real history of St. Patty’s AND Should Christians celebrate St Patrick’s Day? adoption and the destruction of biological children // 10 Opportunities to talk to your child about God //when the Potter is for us //cleaning glass shower doors // how to practice effectively //Man, Woman, and the Mystery of Christ // the case for minor keys // cleaning your washing machine // we enjoyed listening to Mendelssohn’s St. Paul //

thinking about// what my kids REAL needs are – not what they, I, or others perceive them to be

what brings joy// donating pumped milk to an adopting family // local eggs from a Joel Salatin-style farm // giggles

writing// I have been working on a poem but it mostly just sits untouched…

January

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what else do you do when it’s too cold to do anything outside but you’re tired of the hotel? Go bowling! S absolutely loves it.
We arrived in our new city, went househunting two days later, applied for a place that night, and then waited all weekend to hear back, and signed the lease on Wednesday. We have an actual HOUSE which I am loving so much more than I thought I would – I loved apartment life so much that even though there were always twinges of wishing we had a house with a yard I didn’t think I would be so excited once we finally had a house instead.

We signed the lease on our anniversary (I had jokingly told Ezra once that we would move in our anniversary… not too far off!), marking 3 years, 2 kids, 2 international moves, and our 4th place of residence. God brought us through and Ezra is more loving, sacrificial, and supportive than I ever thought possible. Here’s to the next way more than 3 years… but hopefully they’re a little calmer than the first 3.

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And continuing on with our never-ending saga of craziness, S came down with the chickenpox right after we moved in.

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The pantry!!! We had a great pantry in Japan but it was very narrow and deep so stuff was always getting buried.

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First fully homecooked meal in our new place, fish tacos. And yes, the counter is orange. Otherwise it’s an almost-perfect kitchen.

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S’s embellishments on biscuits. She loves to help with anything these days, but especially with cooking and setting the table.

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Spending time outside – we try to walk most days but if that doesn’t happen and the weather is nice I put Ellie’s seat on the back patio and S and I play outside.

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I frequently remind S that stickers go on “fabric, people, or paper mommy has given you,” and then turn around to find this.

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Her toes ❤

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I got Ezra this tea for Christmas after trying it in Dubai last spring. I don’t usually have caffeine but sometimes I can’t resist it.

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Friends gave this sticker set to S for her birthday and we started using it to entertain her while we unpacked. At first she couldn’t get the stickers off herself so we had to help her and the faces were pretty normal, but once she could get them off herself they got more interesting.

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After reading this post I decided I should see if our stuff needed stripping after being washed in homemade detergent. Well, it did. I didn’t do our clothes, just sheets and towels, since they had seemed dingy for a while.

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how she puts on her boots

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Can’t wait to see these blossom in our yard!

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We lost internet almost immediately after it was installed and it took forever to get it back thanks to people telling us all sorts of wrong things on the help line. But the bright side of that was more time to read and handletter and we unpacked and decorated really quickly!

favorite recipes// I was so thankful for our previous experience cooking in hotels since it would have been really tough to figure it out with a toddler and infant. None of these recipes are from that time, though // never posted this honey roasted squash recipe from December // curried red lentil and pumpkin soup // slowcooker rotisserie chicken //

best of online// some 25 days of Christmas posts I really enjoyed here and here // adults performing the Nativity Story as told by kids // from researching our trip into Portland // how God uses suffering (MacArthur) // the curse on women (MacArthur) // human rights for all //

reading of late// Dispatches from the Front (Tim Keese) // Raoul Wallenburg: The Man Who Stopped Death // Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers (Kavanaugh) // skimmed a number of books as we sorted through ours moving in

thinking about// Psalm 1, being rooted in Him.

what brings joy//a house // S’s love of the yard // quiet days without internet

December

December was a month and a half ago now, and the timing of this post says just how crazy it and the following months have been. We left Japan December 10th to be with family until after the New Year, so pretty much all our time was taken up with that! It was a crazy month with jet lag and lots going on, but overall it was mostly pretty enjoyable.
But it was also sad, since we had to say goodbye to friends, some of whom S still asks for daily.

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testing out her new rain gear

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out for sushi

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last playgroup, also the Christmas party so that meant special stickers!

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And it also meant more yummy food.

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Last English Class, also somewhat of a party. This is the hardest part of being away from Japan. I miss the ladies and I miss the gals that also taught it. So many good memories, and I’m so thankful for videos of the songs the Japanese ladies sang for us that day, and for Katie picking my favorite, “Behold Your God” to sing to the ladies because I desperately needed to sing that that day.

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On the other side of the ocean! My grandmother’s house ready for Christmas – this was SO much fun for me, since I have memories of Christmas at her house as a kid and S getting to see it similarly decorated was so special, even though we weren’t actually there for Christmas.
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watching raccoons

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we cooked up Japanese curry for my mom’s extended family

Down with Ezra’s family… and the stomach flu hit just about everyone.
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“the stockings were hung by the chimney with care… all 24 of them.”

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Cousins. I’m so happy the girls have cousins so close in age like I do; it’s so much fun, and they will get to keep seeing each other wherever we end up moving – a constant in our crazy life.

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Day trip into Portland… for donuts, books, and then to meet up with friends.
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Maple bacon, chocolate buttermilk, sweet potato fritter

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Powell’s Books

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there were lots of games exchanged at Christmas, and this one, Dastardly Dirigibles, was an instant favorite.

favorite recipes// salmon quiche // I didn’t make this because of time but it’s gorgeous //

best of online//  a funny Danny Kaye sketch // more Danny Kaye // gorgeous arrangement of Coventry Carol // minimalism with children // minimizing abuse in your church // Christmas when it feels like the end of the world // O Little Town of Aleppo (grab the tissues)

thinking about// anger and sorrow over Aleppo // Irritations in our day are a chance to cry to Him for help and remember the gospel // Go to Him not blogs etc when I don’t know what to do // My time with God not a to do. He wants me to abide in Him for my joy, to bless me // Be who YOU are, who God has called YOU to be, what works for YOU… and don’t worry about everyone else //
Whenever I leave anywhere, it seems all the memories of places I’ve left before come flooding back: Csehy (especially 2013). Dubai, San Diego… now Japan. Right now I keep thinking of watching The Time of the Doctor while recovering from leaving Csehy and preparing to leave Dubai, and Eleven’s words keep rolling over and over in my head. It always seems so fitting whenever I leave a place and go on to a new place and new people, but always hold on to what was.
“It all just disappears, isn’t it? All you are, gone in a moment, like breath on a mirror. Any moment now, he’s coming, the Doctor. [I am the Doctor,] and I always will be. But times change and so must I…We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people, all throughout our lives and that’s okay, that’s good, you gotta keep moving so long as you remember all the people that you used to be… I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

what brings joy// SLEEP // extended family // donuts in Portland // sister love // little cousins //

The Munchkins// got reaaally turned around with jet lag. It was like having a new newborn again and a toddler up for 4 hours in the middle of the night. So not fun. But once they were over that, we had lots of fun with family and they loved all the attention and people to hold them. Both did really well on the flight. Ellie is laughing a LOT and adores S and Ezra.

writing// took part in the 25 Days of Christmas again, this time with a poem, “Homeless at Christmas.”

November

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I took the photos off her photo string and had left them on the floor. She found them while falling asleep for her nap and fell asleep on them.

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playing around while the movers were here

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S was dressing Ellie up while she nursed

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And dressing herself up

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cupcakes for S’s birthday! She was thrilled with her cupcakes, crackers, balloons, boxes to color on and play in, and her favorite friends at her ‘happy be party.’

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Ellie’s first time on the train, going to the Studio Ghibli Museum (coming in another post!)

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The first time I’d seen carts like this here

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Taking a shopping break to watch the puppies

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She asked to eat breakfast outside

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Got to play 3 times this month! 🙂

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2 year photo shoot… she’s not very cooperative anymore though!

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Went to the 100 yen store. Spent 7,000 yen. Got lots of looks from everyone because of how much I was buying…. but it was our last trip.

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S’s thankful tree

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My favorite Engrish.

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YUMMY pizza.

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Snow on Thanksgiving.

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And a beautiful day the next day, which we were thankful for since we were going into Tokyo.

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S was an attraction at Ueno Zoo.

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enjoying onigiri in Ueno Park.

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We turned in our train cards, which made leaving Japan feel a lot more real.

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She refused to wear her coat but wanted her mittens.

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our chopsticks. We took a long time to buy any because we wanted to look around and pick our favorites.

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miso soup at home

>>>Updated my post about what we will and won’t miss about Japan<<<

favorite recipes// pumpkin breakfast cookies // butternut apple salad // honey sweetened frosting // daikon apple slaw // pumpkin corn chowder // thai peanut chicken (minus cornstarch) // apple bacon blue cheese pizza // bbq sauce (would use half molasses half syrup next time, and a tad less spice) // pumpkin scones // slow cooker Mexican lasagna //
It’s been nice to be in the kitchen again, and thankfully cooking again has gone rather smoothly, though some days it feels like I’m cooking all day since I start prepping early on in case Ellie doesn’t nap in the late afternoon (she hates that nap).

best of online//  finished Ellie’s Christmas stocking // doing this for Advent // this too // exercises you can do holding baby // vitamin N //

reading of late// War and Peace, for midnight feedings

thinking about// what’s “best” for baby methods is what works for you // Christ as intercessor

what brings joy// actually going Christmas shopping (not just online)// baby giggles // oboe, especially with Charlotte // S’s love for Ellie // Japanese food

The Munchkins//
S gets her own birthday post coming soon!
Ellie. 2 months || 10 lbs 11 oz || sucks her fist and her lip || amazing us with how well she naps, but still a night owl || happy as can be || loves Sophie the Giraffe, and as of the end of November (2.5 months) is giggling

writing// ha.

September

Obviously the big thing in September was Ellie’s birth – and the rest of the month was spent pretty much waiting/preparing for her and then recovering and adjusting. Hannah came to visit from Dubai, Ezra surprised us by being able to come home sooner than expected, and then my mom and Candace came at the end of the month.

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S likes to go cicada-hunting
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They’re so irritating but have such beautiful wings

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bedtime snack of dates, milk, and roca thins

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Hannah came to visit from Dubai and took some more maternity photos for us while we were waiting for Ellie to be born

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Exploring Enoshima Island
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Being a cute blonde kid in Japan means sometimes elderly gentlemen give you chocolate milk from the vending machine and ask for high fives.

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5 days away from due date A!

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We played games most evenings while we were waiting on baby

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And tried all sorts of old wives’ tales to get baby out… but I was also majorly craving pineapple.

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At a park near us for a long walk
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And a few trips down the roller slide

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How the cool kids eat their beans

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We made her a baby carrier for her dolls

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In labor. 😉

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Sister love. S certainly does get jealous sometimes but mostly just adores her baby sister.

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favorite recipes// the cashew cream didn’t turn out but the crust of this dessert pizza was delicious // lamb and 2 squash skillet // tomato zucchini corn galette

best of online//  ISIS is killing us because we are not Muslim // What I Want My Kids to Know on September 11 // childbirth through the decades // musicians’ hierarchy of needs // courting and dating are both flawed // 4 things we need to say when marriage is hard // prolife but not a stereotype // postpartum healthcare: a tale of two births (totally agree with this. We have been blessed with good support in the community and even medically with both births, but both times we have been to the doctor too many times in the early days and that should change) // some thoughts on helping others // this video on Bach is very cool // classical music mashup // why you should stop using homemade laundry detergent (oops) // infant passport photo tutorial // using a ringsling with a newborn // why you feel busy all the time // state of theology in the US

reading of late// Little Dorrit (Dickens) // The Legacy of Sovereign Joy (Piper) // Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Tripp) //

thinking about// lots of prayer and learning to trust God this month especially before Hannah and Ezra were both in town! // some thoughts from Valley of Vision: “My sin is to fear what never will be.” “Death destroys me, but my great High Priest stands in its waters/ And will open me a passage and beyond it is a better country” // 1 John and loving the brethren – physical needs (meals), monetary needs (giving), spiritual needs (daily personal ministry – Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemers Hands) // Daniel – the importance of giving God honor and glory and thanks, and His control in the rise and fall of nations

what brings joy// the biggest thing this month that brought so much joy is Ellie and all the answered prayers surrounding her and her birth!

The Munchkins// Ellie has gained almost a pound since birth (2 weeks ago), nurses beautifully, and sleeps as well as you can expect a newborn to! We are thankful.
S continues to talk more and it’s so much fun to watch her love on Ellie and interact with visitors. She LOVED having Hannah (Ha) stay with us and also loves having Candace and my mom here. She is so social!

writing// I started work on Javi’s Cafe but didn’t get very far before Ellie was born

August

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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