This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving on the day after Thanksgiving, which actually gave us a good opportunity to go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York City. Our friend Peter lives right by where the parade went past (and right next to the Empire State Building!), so we got to see some of the parade from his building’s roof and out his window. (Thanks so much, Peter!) It’s was very cold with snow flurries on and off, so we were thankful not to have to stand out in the cold the whole time. Not to mention that we were glad to not be in the middle of the crowds!

On Thursday afternoon Jeremy, Lillian and Shanna arrived. I did a bunch of cooking, Lillian made a pie, and there was just a good amount of relaxing and hanging out, with some nice food and conversations thrown in for good measure.

On Friday there was some more cooking happening (which, in case anyone was wondering, I really enjoyed doing). We had bacon-wrapped turkey breast, corn casserole, fried potatoes, roasted butternut squash salad, sweet potatoes with maple syrup sauce, cranberry sauce, cranberry chutney that Lillian made, green beans, stuffing and gravy. Dessert was Lillian’s Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and my pumpkin pie, served with lots of whipped cream.

What a lovely couple of days, and so much to give thanks for!

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Esther’s 5th birthday

It is hard to believe that my little baby Esther…

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has grown into a big FIVE year old. How did that happen??

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Well, in early November we celebrated her 5th birthday with much less fanfare than I had hoped and planned due to a bunch of us getting  super nasty colds. There was still presents, and a special dinner and cake, and she got to take cupcakes to her Co-Op class, so it wasn’t a total flop!

She got a piggy bank, which was a big hit not only with her but also with her siblings. Laurelin would put the money in and then hold her little hands up as if to question “Where did that go?!”

She also got some other things — a package from Oupa and Ouma, and a Sylvanian Family bathroom from us.

I always let the kids choose a cake out of my kids’ birthday cake book… and then halfway through making it I always wonder what on earth I was thinking! This year Esther requested this Pinata cake, which is basically a regular cake with a chocolate shell over top decorated with coloured M’nm’s. The shell was not my friend. It didn’t “easily slide out” of the bowl as the recipe indicated it would. I got it right on the 4th try, this time with the help of some tin foil. As a result, it is not quite as beautiful as the book, but hey, there were so many M’nm’s, I don’t think Esther minded!

I took a video of her smashing her pinata:

Happy birthday, sweet Esther! I love you so much!

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In lieu of Halloween

This year, instead of celebrating Halloween, which is such a massive deal here in the States and which we don’t feel particularly comfortable with joining in on for various reasons, we decided to do things a little differently and have a Fall Party with our good friends, Alfredo and Damaris and their kids. The kids dressed up: Marica was a cowgirl, Esther and Sophia were princesses, Elijah was a police officer, and Laurelin a monkey, which isn’t too far from the truth.

We had a lovely table decorated with crafts made by the kids during the co-op time we have with our kids and Damaris and Alfredo’s kids on Thursdays, some nice food and the kids still got a bunch of candy, and Damaris even organized some games and fun prizes for the kids. The kids loved it, and they loved getting decorations and things ready for weeks ahead. It was a great evening — much better than knocking on random people’s doors in the cold asking for candy! (We still gave candy to people who came to our door, we just didn’t go trick or treating.)

Posted in Culture, Friends, Kids | 4 Comments


Here in the States, people celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. We’re actually celebrating it today, so that it could work out for Jeremy and Lillian to be here with us.

So, for that reason, and because there’s cooking to be done, I’ll keep this short and leave you with the lyrics of a hymn whose tune I dislike, but that has powerful words. Today, as we sit around our feast table laden with glorious food, we will count our blessings, name them, and give thanks for what God has done.

Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.


Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

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October Fest

One weekend in October we went to an October Fest (not the beer-drinking kind) hosted by the Essex County Environmental Center, the same place where the girls go for their Frog Pond Science Club. It was a lovely community event where all the things on offer were free — crafts, a petting zoo, a snake man, music, and even some snacks!

It was such a fun time, and so refreshing to get away from the concrete and to enjoy some great nature!

Posted in Family, Nature | 3 Comments

Frog Pond Science Club

I signed Marica and Esther up for a “Frog Pond Science Club” class at the Essex County Environmental Center, which is about a half hour drive from our house heading into the mountains. Once you get past Newark, it’s a beautiful drive, especially this time of the year with all the autumn colours. The class meets once every month and they do fun things like catch frogs and tadpoles and then study them.

Last time we went, the teacher brought a toad into the lab and fed him earthworms, so the parents got to watch too. Laurelin was fascinated!

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Talking about Laurelin: while the two older girls are busy with their class, she and I get to hang out under the trees, lax out on deck chairs and explore. The class meets from 4 till 5pm, which is not ideal in terms of driving that time of day, but it’s so refreshing to get out in nature that I count it a trip well worth our time!


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Cooking with friends

When I was in high school, a woman in our church (hi, Jantina!) got a bunch of us young’uns together for a day of cooking at her house. She gave us some basic recipes and tips and together we spent the day cooking and baking. Such a simple thing, but I remember that day very fondly and with much gratitude. I always thought I’d like to do something like that too, one day when I was a grown-up. And then I realized that, actually, I’m already a grown up, and I can do this now!

The nature of the church we attend in New York is that people come from all over the metropolitan NYC area, and we are very spread out. It really limits the contact we have with each other during the week, so whenever we get together it is great.

This was no exception. I wasn’t exactly teaching new skills to young’uns, because we’re all pretty close in age, but it was really fun just cooking together with a bunch of girls, to have an excuse to use my pretty tea cups (though looking at the photos now I notice that my table sorely lacked a tablecloth!) to drink tea of various sorts and eat the fruits of our labors.

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Esther and Marica did a bit of helping too. Here Esther is chopping mushrooms, which was very nice of her because she detests them!

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We made made bread and soup and a very nice dinner. It was a great team effort!

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And that reminds me, I should get my act together and start planning our next cooking day!

Posted in Food, Friends, Hospitality | 2 Comments