What is my blog about? It's about Torah family living. It's about letting Torah affect our daily lives, from mealtime to bedtime, homeschooling to farm chores.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baking Day!

After some weather delays, we were finally able to go to my sister's house to bake cookies. 

Holy cow!  Look at that big mama!

Ok, I confess the cookie recipe was full of sugar and white flour, but we will improve on the toppings as you will see later.

Yogurt frosting.  See, that's a step up!

Many of our cookie cutters were hebrew letters, very cool.

Here is our attempt to keep the little bakers contained on plates while they decorated.  They did pretty good, I think.

We decorated with different jams, coconut, nuts, chocolate, and the yogurt frosting.
Thank you, Aunt Leslie, for letting me make this post on her high speed internet.  On my dialup, this would have been a career.  Have a great day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

an inspiring birth

I just stumbled upon this birth account and found it very inspiring.  It was written by a Jewish woman, after the birth of her daughter.  Her faith and confidence, despite her fears, was amazing.  I hope you enjoy it.  I also want to remember where it is, lol, so I can read it again.

Overcoming my fear of birth

Life in my brain

Yeah, I know, this post sounds kind of scary lol.  But I thought I'd take a few minutes and share some of my hopes, dreams, and failures of late. 

~ I am working very hard on setting up long term food storage in our home.  Doug put up three shelves in the basement today and I filled them with all the canned goods I put up this last summer.  Very good feeling!  I have been putting in larger grain and bean orders at the food coop.  I also am trying to make food with the ingredients I can keep on hand at the house.

~ I am anxiously awaiting my new kitchen island.  Well, ok, it's actually two woodworking benches that we will be making into an island.  Doug wants to keep the vice on the end, just in case he wants to do some woodworking in the kitchen!  It will probably double my island storage, give me eight drawers, and two big shelves underneath.  Very excited!  Oh, and it's made of oak!

~ I am trying to write a beginning reader's version of Leviticus.  That is a real stretcher, and makes me wonder what I was thinking!  But when YHVH gives us a job to do, He helps us figure it out.  I have the first portion in Leviticus written, and I learned alot about the sacrificial system in the process.  I concluded that if we still had to sacrifice an animal every time we sinned, we would a) quickly run out of animals, and b) probably sin alot less.  We, and I speak for myself here, seem to easily lose touch with the cost for our sin.  We get careless.  I want to be more careful with everyday living.  Did my Messiah die because of the nasty attitude I am displaying this morning?

~ I have been on a mission to get my house running smoothly and have my children helping where they can.  Thus far, Naomi and Holly feed and water the chickens every day.  Isaac and Sadie help bring firewood up on the porch.  The kids know how to use the dishwasher, load and sort the laundry, clean the bathroom, sweep, tidy, cook simple foods like eggs and pasta, and help with baking.  My hope is that as I get fatter and after baby comes, they can help keep things running somewhat smoothly with mommy overseeing.  Not to mention, I want them to be well prepared for their own homes and have the varying jobs second nature.  I also moved all the sheets to the laundry room today.  Why?  Because now they will get put away right out of the dryer, rather than getting buried in a pile on top of the dryer, never to be seen again.  Hey, I know my limitations!  Better to work with them than fail miserably.

~ I was surprised to get an email that took me back about four years.  I used to have a business knitting, and dying yarn.  I was asked if I would consider dying a little yarn for a previous customer.  It was really nice to know I had been missed, and if I have enough yarn, I think I might just dye some for her.  It's been a while, and I've missed it.

~ On a daily basis, I go into the bathroom to look at my belly in the mirror.  I say, "It's not that big."  Doug says, "Not for twins!"  He has teased me for six pregnancies, and never misses an opportunity.  It will be an amazing day when he actually gets proven right!  YHVH only knows!

~ I am planning a blow by blow post of our typical school day.  However, I don't know if I'm ready to reveal that!  People will find out how simple our school is and laugh at me lol!

~ Well, I could keep going but I have to visit the bathroom again!  Oh, there's another little tiny kick!  Hello, little one!  By the way, congrats to all you ladies that are expecting blessings.

The girls are having fun playing with photography!
Bye bye for now.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Real life Math

I just finished reading the math section in The Three R's
by Ruth Beechick.  It contained a very helpful reminder that young children learn with their hands.  They need to count the spoons, sort the blocks, etc.  Numbers on a page don't mean anything to them yet.  This is where real life math comes in. 
So I have been making a deliberate effort to use math in every day life.  I have done this some in the past, but here are my efforts to step it up.

First stop: the kitchen.

We made cookies.  We counted the scoops of flour, practiced reading the recipe, and figured out how many 1/2 cups we needed to get two cups of sugar.  Sadie worked on her counting, Isaac and Holly got some practice with addition, and Naomi worked some with fractions.  Yes, I still have a head, by the way.

When we set the table, I may say, "I've got 5 plates, how many more do we need?"
"If everyone gets two cookies, how many will we all eat together?"

Next stop: math box.

Just to make sure we use lots of manipulatives, I put together a math box.  We use Math-U-See, which I love, but sometimes we need to slow down the pace.  So I will now make a point of letting the kids have a couple days to "play" with the manipulatives and the Math-U-See blocks when we learn new concepts.  I collected all kinds of interesting things for the kids to count, sort, add, subtract, etc.  They have already been anxious to try it out.

This is Isaac using lock washers to figure out simple addition problems.

Have fun with math this week!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Little fiber artist

"She worketh willingly with her hands."

Holly used her "Chanukah" money from Gramma to buy a wooden peg loom.  I am so thrilled to see her take to it like she has.  She comes from a long line of women who worked willingly with their hands.  My grandmother made embroidered tablecloths.  My aunt spun wool and hooked rugs.  My mother did a lot of weaving when she was younger, and is currently the best seamstress east of the Mississippi.  (I love you, Mom!)  I spin, dye, and knit.  So, I am thrilled to have a budding fiber artist in my midst.  She has about completed her first project, and is thoroughly enjoying it.  Paper and scissors are great, but I love seeing my children involved with really useful projects.

We wouldn't want to leave the boys out, so here's a tribute to my little man, Isaac.  He's a true knight in training.  If only he didn't cry louder than the girls when he gets hurt lol!

Have a great day with all the little people in your life!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Prep day followup

I didn't quite make it before the 3:00 pm deadline, but here I am anyway.  Elisha and I got a little distracted.  I was trying to clean the living room floor, and decided to do it with a wet wash cloth.  Then I could practice crawling around, which will be good for baby positioning later on.  Well, Elisha was so excited that mommy was the same height as him, that we had to play for a little while. 

Isaac is of course sword fighting in this picture lol!
I am doing quite well on my list.  I still need to prepare the enchiladas and the barley for breakfast.  I also need to load the dishwasher after dinner.  Baths are half done right now.  Otherwise we are in good shape.

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!  I hope you had a productive prep day, and will be able to fully enter into the rest and peace of Shabbat. 

My prep day check in

I thought I'd check in real quick and give you a picture of prep day at our house.  The key for me has been maintenance throughout the week.  I can't be hohum about housework for days 1-5 and then magically become Martha Stewart on prep day.  Believe me, I've tried.  A good working schedule has been very important for me.  Then I'm not trying to do a week's worth of work while the sun is rapidly setting on Friday night. 

This has been a weird week, and has shown me the need to tweek my schedule once again.  I planned a trip that had to be cancelled because of weather delays at my husband's job.  I made several business calls.  I'm trying to get back in the swing of school after forgetting the kids' books at Marme's house last week.  My mind keeps drifting to pregnancy topics.  I also starting writing my book about Torah for beginning readers.  This sounds like a good time to rethink my schedule.  I need to block off more time for certain activities, so that I can set them aside and focus on other things, knowing the time is there to work on them later.  This applies mostly to writing for me.  I can work on cleaning the house if mentally I know that I have all evening to focus on writing.  You may have things like this in your life, too.  Try working out a schedule, so that you can put all your energy into the task at hand, and not be distracted by everything else that needs to be done.
(The link in my sidebar, Telling your Time, was very helpful to me.)

What does this have to do with prep day?  You have to maintain a good level in your home all week, so prep day simply consists of doublechecking and putting on finishing touches.  At least, that's the ideal lol!

This week I am sharing some before pictures of my kitchen and living room.  I will do my very best to post the after pictures before 3:00,  when this linky ends. 

Here is my to-do list for today.  It could have been shorter if I had paid better attention to my schedule lol!

1. Put away clean laundry
2. Bake bread
3. Feed animals
4. Take out garbage
5. Clean kitchen
6. Make sure kids clean their rooms and bathroom
7. Everyone bathed
8. Check sandwich fillings for Shabbat dinner
9. Plan and prepare dinner for tonight, probably enchiladas
10. Make barley cereal in crockpot for Shabbat breakfast

That should do it.  The other thing I've learned about prep day is prioritizing.  I learned from Sandra Felton in one of her books, that you do the 20% of work that makes the 80% impact.  No one will know if you didn't scrub the tub with a toothbrush.  But your baby will notice if you didn't wash his diapers.  Have a lovely prep day, and I'll check in again this afternoon, if all is going well!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An unexpected bike trip

I would like to retell a story that was a real blessing to me.  I heard it from Thurman Scrivner on one of his teaching tapes.  It may not be an absolutely faithful retelling, but I will do my best to keep the spirit of  it.

A man, happily married for many years, decided one day that he wanted to increase his faith.  So he prayed and asked God to give him a greater measure of faith.  Satisfied that his prayer would be answered, he went to sleep.  The next morning, his lovely wife rolled over and made a simple comment.  He simply thought, "How dare she talk to me that way?"

The day began and again, she made a comment.  "This woman is out of control!"

By the time a third innocent comment came out of her mouth, he completely lost it.  "I've had it with your bickering and complaining!  You always nag and talk to me so disrespectful!  I'm leaving!"
His dear sweet wife simply asked, "We only have one car.  How are you going to leave?"
To which he responded in exagerrated tones, "I'm taking the bicycle!"

With that he was gone.  He rode that bicycle like it was a mad bull.  Or was he the mad bull?  He fussed and fumed, and the farther he rode, the madder he got.  Eventually his adrenaline and anger gave out and he fell off the bike into a heap.  He soon found himself in the bottom of a ditch covered with crawling ants.  He jumped up and began to yell at God.  "How dare you let this happen to me?  I asked for more faith and here I am in a ditch covered with ants!"

He heard a very simple, quiet response.  "You failed your test."

As the truth of this statement sunk in, he fell on his knees and repented for his awful spirit.  God was quick to forgive, as He always is.

But now the man was in a ditch, with no idea where he was, and nothing but a bicycle.  He saw a gas station across the street, and began to make his way there, to get directions.  But before he made it inside, a familiar car pulled in.  It belonged to some friends of his.  They saw him and rolled down their window.  "What are you doing here?  We were just on our way to visit you and your lovely wife!"

Yes, his dear lovely wife that he had yelled at and abandoned at home.  His friends asked to follow him there to make sure they didn't get lost.  "Where's your car, so we can follow you?"

"Well, I don't have the car."
"So how'd you get here?"
"I took the bicycle."  This response was, of course, as quiet as possible.
"You rode the bicycle?  You're 50 miles from home!"

But the gracious and loving God we serve not only sent friends to this dear man, but they were driving a truck that he could throw the bicycle in.  When he reached his home, he immediately ran inside and begged his precious wife for forgiveness. 

She simply responded, "I thought something funny was going on, so I just prayed for you the whole time."

When we seek to grow in our faith, we must prepare ourselves.  We seek to climb a hill, but our desire to climb the hill does not make that hill flat.  Faith and growth comes with testing.  We have a wonderful, loving God to help us when the testing comes, but the testing will come, all the same.  Sometimes we will "fail," and He will pick us back up so we can try again.  But sometimes, we will remember to lean on Him, the author and perfector of our faith, and we will climb to greater heights of obedience and faith.  But, no matter what, we must never stay in the ditch, covered with crawling ants!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Banana Bread

I've been teaching the kids how to use my Zojirushi bread machine this week.  They have been learning to read the recipe and measure correctly.  With my supervision, they have been doing quite well.   So I thought I would learn something new, too.  I have heard about soaking grains and flours, but have never actually done it.  (blush)  I pulled out my copy of "Nourishing Traditions" and decided to try banana bread.

Here is a picture of my fresh ground flour soaking.  I didn't have buttermilk, so I used the old trick of adding a little lemon juice to the milk.  I managed to let it soak for about 18 hours before I added the other ingredients.  I added cinnamon, since you can never go wrong with cinnamon.  Well, it went so well, that it also disappeared quite quickly. 

Here it is 5 minutes after I cut it.  Yep, we'll do this one again!  I definitely liked the soaked flour, it gave the bread a nice texture.  Now to go check on my cultured cream cheese. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why we keep Torah

Rather than give you a thesis on how wonderful Torah is, and the blessings of obedience, I'd like to put this on the bottom shelf.  I'd like to give you a top ten list that will give you a very clear picture of why we keep Torah.  Enjoy!

Top Ten Excuses children use for not cleaning their room.  (Or top ten reasons people don't keep Torah.)

10.  I can't clean it perfectly, because I can't reach under the bed.  So I just won't bother.
9.  I'll wipe the kitchen table off, and that will be good enough.
8.  I don't feel a warm desire inside to clean, so I don't have to.
7.  Only 16 year olds with red hair are expected to clean their rooms anymore.  The rest of us don't have to.
6.  I'll clean it on Tuesday, today's not a good day for me.
5.  Mommy really doesn't mean "clean your room," she means "tell your friends to brush their teeth."
4.  I don't understand why I have to clean my room.
3.  Dustcloths and vacuums are not cool.
2.  I'm okay with picking up my clothes, but making beds is completely out of date.
1.  Mommy made her bed, so now I don't have to make mine.

Just in case you missed it, let me translate that list into the reasons people don't keep Torah.

10.  The law is impossible to keep, so why try?
9.  I can invent my own ways to worship God.
8.  I don't have a conviction to obey.
7.  The law is only for the Jews.
6.  I can worship God on Sunday.
5.  I can spiritualize the law, in effect removing the need to obey.
4.  The law doesn't make sense to me.
3.  I don't want to be different from other people.
2.  I can pick and choose the laws I obey.
1.  The Messiah kept the law, so I don't have to.

If you are finding yourself holding onto anything on this list, I would encourage you to put your faith in action.  Begin to obey, and then watch as your Heavenly Father shows you the meaning and the blessing of keeping His precious Torah.  If you claim to be part of His family, then please begin following His house rules.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

(1Jn 5:3)

Many of my precious brothers and sisters in the house of YHVH are doing their best to obey the house rules.  Praise YHVH!  I just want to encourage you that we are asked to try, not keep it perfectly.  Just keep "cleaning your room," and YHVH will be there to help you get the stuff under the bed.  :-)

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Healing, Part 6

I feel like Job in chapter 42.  I am humbled before an Almighty Elohim who controls the weather and creates mighty beasts that no one can tame.  He is not to be questioned and not to be told what He will do.  I am not worthy of His attention or His favor.  Many others suffer great pain, financial loss, death.  I face none of these things.  I am truly blessed with health, prosperity, and freedom to obey my Creator.  I fall on shaking knees not daring to ask for a thing for me.

But then I look up and see my Savior.  He is suffering great pain, disease, humiliation and death.  He has all power in the universe yet He is brought this low.  And then He catches my eye.  He looks directly into my soul and says, "I do this for you, so that by my stripes you can be healed."

To be given another day is more than I deserve.  To be given eternal life is sufficient.  To have Him care about my little "problems" that mean nothing in the scheme of things is love beyond compare.

YHVH, my Father, you have given me everything.  You have healed my heart broken by sin.  You have healed my life that could have been utterly destroyed if not for You.  It is sufficient.  If you choose to heal more, I can only offer up a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which is truly no sacrifice at all, but the least I can do.  So for all that you have healed on me beyond man's explanation, I am truly grateful.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Little Torah Books

I would like to introduce my latest project.  It's a series of printable books that you can make up and use as another way to teach Torah to your little ones.  Little kids will enjoy having mommy or daddy read it to them, and beginning readers will enjoy reading a book all by themselves.  This first book is all about preparation day.  I hope you enjoy it!  We gave ours to our cousins, so we need to print a new one lol!

Download:  It's Preparation Day! printable book

More are on the way as I'm able to get them ready.  Be watching for them!

You may enjoy reading:

More thoughts to consider