I was recently talking with Ben about a blogger whose blog I follow. I really respect her and appreciate her blog immensely, but the frequency with which she puts out quality blog posts about stuff they’ve done or made, and about the amazing things they do in their homeschool was making me feel like she must be some super woman. And then I remembered… we bloggers only show you the stuff that we choose to show you.

So, here’s my disclaimer:

You don’t see the bad attitudes, the melt-downs, the fussing (of both children and adults),

you don’t see our bad habits,

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you don’t see our messes,  our failures, our disrespect, our selfishness, our brokenness.

We do this partly because the daily and the mundane just doesn’t seem worthy of sharing, and partly because here on our blog we’ve chosen quite deliberately not to share mopey stuff. Sure, I’ve been tempted numerous times to have a moan about how hard it can be do be far from family, or the challenges of homeschooling, or whatever. And I might even write about that stuff sometime in the future, but I’ll work hard at it not being a rant or a complaining session. Because mopeyness encourages more mopeyness, and who wants to read a discouraging blog?

Ironically, on the other hand, a blog that always portrays only the good stuff could also be discouraging to the reader. They might think that they don’t do xyz like such and such a blogger does, so they must not be good parents, or homemakers, or that they’re not giving their children what they need, or whatever.

Also, we keep this blog alive for the main purpose of staying in touch with lots of people we love who are spread all over the world. We don’t really fit a blogging theme of “homeschool blog” or “theologically thoughtful blog” or whatever. We’re just sharing what we’ve been up to, some of the stuff we’re reading or thinking about or experiencing. Now that the weather is cooling down and we have a more structured daily life, we actually do fewer exciting things and you might see more thinky posts. If I get time to write them. :-)

While we’re on that topic, what kinds of things would you like us to write about? Anything you’re burning to know, or might find helpful? Let us know!

Summary of summer, part 4

So, last week I mentioned how we traveled to Indiana for cousin Sharon’s and Vijo’s wedding in August. Despite the 13 hour trip each way, we were so happy that we could go and also that we could spend time with other Hoyt family members. We drove out on a Thursday and back on a Monday, so that meant that we had three full days there, which was great. We wanted to make the most of hanging out with family as much as possible!

Some roadstop sights: the pretty wings of a dead butterfly, a bird pooped in Laurelin’s hair, and a living room on wheels.

On the Thursday evening I got to attend Sharon’s lingerie party, which was fun. It was nice to meet some of her friends and help fold some origami birds for the reception decoration.

We helped a little with the set-up for the reception, many others helped a lot. There were tables and chairs to set out, about a million table cloths that needed ironing, and I think 300+ place settings that had to be laid out. It turned out pretty nicely, I think!

On Friday a friend of Sharon’s had been barbecuing loads of pork, which we got together and pulled in the afternoon after set-up for the reception the next day. The flowers were also getting put into vases at that point, so I managed to snag a few nice shots of them. The reception dinner was a lovely low-key affair with pizza and soda (Ben and I did that too!).

Saturday morning a bunch of us got together at a nice park next to Center Lake where the children played and the adults got some catching-up done over a potluck picnic.

Then, for the big event! Sharon and Vijo’s wedding was a lovely relaxed affair. However, I’m afraid that Ben and I were having a rather eventful time instead of a relaxed time during the ceremony. As we walked into the sanctuary, I noticed that Laurelin (who had been getting increasingly cranky over the previous two hours) was breaking out in hives. I realized at that point that she must have consumed some sort of peanut product at the picnic in the morning — it usually takes her about two hours before she breaks out. She was crazy itchy, so I took her out to hunt for some Benadryl. A kind lady who was there to help with the reception preparations went out and bought some for her, as her hives were turning into one massive body-covering hive. I had an epipen with me, but didn’t really want to use it unless she started having trouble breathing, which she was not. So, finally the benadryl came, and I gave her some. At this point she was super unhappy! Ben came out so I could see a little bit of the wedding. He took her to the foyer so he could see the last bit of the wedding. Just as the happy couple were preparing to walk back down the aisle, Laurelin threw up right where they’d have to walk! Ben grabbed a loose rug and threw it over it so they didn’t have to walk through vomit, at least… It all got cleaned up in the end, including Ben and Laurelin. As a result of the Benadryl, Laurelin then peacefully slept all through the reception in a pack and play next to our table and woke up much better! So, all that to say that I’m sure the ceremony was lovely — the 10 minutes or so I saw certainly was!

Oh, and in case you were wondering what caused the reaction: I had bought some cashew nuts (which she can eat with no problem) for the picnic. What I didn’t realize was that the cashews had been roasted in peanut oil, and I didn’t even think to check. Ugh. Lesson learned!

I wish I got more photos of the ceremony and reception — especially of Sharon’s immediate family, but that couldn’t really be helped!

On the Sunday we attended Sharon’s home church, then went back to our lovely hosts’ home for naps after which we joined the rest of the family for a last chance at hanging out to chat, show off strength and prowess, sing, and swing dance.

We were so thankful to be able to go to Vijo and Sharon’s wedding! Thanks for inviting us, you guys! And while a 13 hour drive each way with small children is not what I (or anyone, I think) would call fun, it was totally worth it — for the wedding itself and for the opportunity to spend some time with some pretty awesome people.

A summary of summer, part 3

August was filled to the brim with activity. We said goodbye to our Chinese exchange students, and celebrated Ben’s birthday.

We swam a few times in our friend’s nearby pool, but also did a fun day trip out to go swim at a water hole our friend Sarah knows about. We joined Sarah and 3 of her kids and our friends the Wassermans and enjoyed a beautiful day out in nature under the trees. The water was very cold, but it didn’t seem to stop the kids!

One day, I took the three girls to all get their hair cut. It was Laurelin’s first time at a hairdresser, and she did remarkably well and sat surprisingly still. This was serious business! Esther was adamant that she didn’t want a haircut, but she needed a trim, so the hairdresser cut off only a little bit. Marica, however, was sick of having long hair again and had been begging me for months to get a haircut. So off it all came again, much to my dismay… seeing those beautiful blonde curls scattered on the floor! But I have to admit that her new haircut suits her well and looks pretty, so I can’t really complain.

One evening we went and used some vouchers for fast food that the girls earned through the reading program at the library, and ate it in a park across the street. The food was awful (from WhiteCastle), but there was this butterfly that kept landing on Esther, and she loved it!

Summer also saw Laurelin getting potty trained. All I can say is that I’m glad we have hardwood floors! The beginning was slow, but then she got the idea. Poopooth (as she calls them) took a little longer to master. One time she got them *on* the toilet — the toilet seat! (I’ll spare you the photo!) But now, a month or so later, she’s doing really well and going everywhere in undies (mostly without accidents) except to bed at night. :-)

Our friends the Wassermans invited us to spend a weekend with them up in Vermont at their family’s holiday house. In New Zealand we would call this kind of house a bach, but I don’t know what they call it here. Other than awesome. :-) It was wonderful to wake up and look out the window and see the sunlight filtering through all the green. It was quiet and restful and altogether wonderful!

We also had a fun day at the zoo with our friends the Rodriguezes,

and a beach day with our friends the Murphys and my friend Kristen and her kids. I added that last photo simply for those who like to people-watch (it’s a double whammy). New York beaches will just never disappoint when it comes to people watching!

Ben has dreamed of putting up a rope swing in the big tree in our front yard almost since we moved in, and it finally happened in August! Since these photos were taken, he’s put a better seat on it. Let me just say that this swing is even fun for adults!

However, the biggest event in August was probably our roadtrip out to Indiana for cousin Sharon’s wedding. I have quite a lot of photos from that, so I’ll share them in next week’s post.

A summary of summer, part 2

A summary of summer, continued.

In July, we hosted the Holtslags, our pastor from NZ and his family, as well as James and Laura (James is Phillipa’s son, Laura is the Holtslags’ daughter). This time we sent them off to do sight-seeing by themselves, but we still got to have some good conversations over the weekend.

Incidentally, we also had another cousin of Ben’s (Derek’s sister, Sharon) and her fiance Vijo here, but they were in and out a fair bit, so we didn’t see too much of them. Maybe next time. :-)

They were followed closely by 3 Chinese exchange students that we hosted for 3 weeks. It was a fun experience, despite the big language barrier. They spent the day at a school and we got to spend the evenings and weekends with them. If there’s one thing I learnt it is this: teenage boys are strange creatures, no matter what culture they’re from! Their last night here also happened to be Ben’s birthday, so we had a birthday/goodbye dinner out and dessert and presents back at home. One of the boys gave Ben an almost-life-sized stuffed tiger!

We had a very lovely surprise when our next door neighbors moved away and offered us their trampoline. And the neighbors on the other side of us were getting rid of a bunch of ride-on toys and offered them to us. We’ve also acquired a grill! Wow, going from a place with no yard to now having a place with a yard that has grass, where we can grill, roast marshmallows, play with water and sand (the “cookies” in the photos are gourmet mud pies by Marica), jump on a trampoline and play for hours — our cup overfloweth!

The last weekend of July, Marica and I took the bus down to Philly to spend some time helping Jeremy and Lillian who had just welcomed their second baby into the world.  We cooked up a storm and stocked their freezer and got lots of lovely baby cuddles too.

The girls also did a week of VBS for a week (Vacation Bible School) at a church about 20 minutes from our house that they thoroughly enjoyed. That gave Laurelin and me a week of mornings to just hang out as the two of us, which was quite fun for a change! The rest of the month was so full of activity, it was nice to sometimes just slow down and let them play, and to have cups of tea and cake. :-)

The summary of summer, to be continued.

A summary of summer, part 1

I know our blog posts have been a bit sporadic recently, but we’ve been up to all sorts of mischief. It’s summer after all! We’ve had playdates, we’ve played in the sprinklers, we’ve done lots of swimming, we’ve had sleep-overs, we’ve had visits to the library, we’ve had a couple of road trips, we’ve had homemade lemonade, iced tea and popsicles, eaten tonnes of watermelon and peaches and corn… you know… summer stuff.

But this summer we have also hosted quite a number of some really cool people. It has made for a busy time, but so worthwhile.

Let me backtrack to June, when we hosted Phillipa and Steve who were in New York to attend conference and who were also visiting Phillipa’s son, James, who has featured on our blog before. We’ve known Phillipa and her family for a long time (in fact, Ben was boarding with them when we were dating!), so it was really wonderful to see her again and to meet Steve. He passed the test: we like him. :-)

We enjoyed some sight-seeing in Central Park and elsewhere, some lovely cafe lunches and morning teas with them as well as some great conversations, which were a highlight for me.

June also saw the girls’ end of year piano recital (still getting used to the academic year finishing in the middle of the calendar year here in the States!). They both did really well. Marica even played a piece she wrote herself. I was a proud Mamma.



Then we had Ben’s cousin Derek stay with us for just over a week, joined about half way through by another uncle and aunt and three cousins: Uncle Stan, Aunt Nora and Lindsey, Alice and Evan. It was like a mini Hoyt reunion! More sight-seeing ensued, as well as some more good conversations and lots of other good fun.

(Photo credits go to Uncle Stan and his stunning camera for most of this lot.)

We then traveled to Grove City, PA, for Ben’s cousin Esther’s wedding, where I got a surprising number of really terrible photos! So I only have a few to share.

The very next day we drove to my friend Anna’s wedding in the Delaware Water Gap where I was a bridesmaid. (Got a real pathetic number of good photos there too.) Needless to say that was a big weekend with two weddings in two different locations and lots of driving!

The summary of summer, to be continued…

We’re still here…

I’m just taking a break from blogging to enjoy the summer, and spend time with visitors, the kids and to do all those fun activities that only happen in the summer. I hope to resume a regular blogging schedule again in late August. Until then, if you want to contact us, please email us! We’d love to hear from you. :-)

Homeschool field trip

One weekend in May we took the girls in to the Ancient Egyptian section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, because in our history program we’d been studying Ancient Egypt. It was great to see many of the things we (including myself!) had been learning about in real life, and the girls seemed to really enjoy it.

Seeing that the Met is right in Central Park, we spent some time there afterward until the rain started coming down.

A fun and informative Saturday morning, despite the rain!