A little time travel into the past: April

In April, we had a wonderful visit from my parents. It was great to spend time together again — especially for the grandkids to have their grandparents around! Spring really was a great time for a visit — not too hot and not too cold, and it’s so beautiful with all the blossoms and flowers out.

I was really excited that my mum could be here for the tea party I like to host in the spring, especially seeing that most of my pretty tea cups come from her! It was great to be able to introduce her to some of the wonderful ladies in my life and to all share together yummy teas and scrumptious food.

Our time together included a little trip down to Washington DC and Lancaster, PA.

Washington DC has so many impressive buildings, and it’s so clean compared to NYC! We did the touristy thing and took one of those city bus tours — it was a great way to see the city, and we could hop on and off to stop at the places we wanted to explore a bit more, like the Capitol and the White House. We had missed most of DC’s famous cherry blossoms, but still got to see plenty of other beautiful blossoms all over the city.

We were on our trip over Easter weekend, and got to attend a beautiful Good Friday service in DC. On the Saturday, we drove to Lancaster, PA, for a few nights to look around and to visit with cousins Hannah and Peter, and attended church with them on Easter Sunday. We rented an Air B’nB place in Lancaster — the most narrow little row house I’d ever seen! It was great to have a kitchen and living room area, though and so much cozier than a hotel room (though I have to say the hotel we got just outside of DC had nice big rooms and was plenty comfortable for the price we paid).

We spent our time in Lancaster by resting and taking it easy at our rental apartment, checking out a market in the city, playing with the kids at the local playground, and meeting up with Hannah and Peter for dinner. We also drove out to Intercourse and Strasbourg where the men took the kids on a steam train ride while mum and I went exploring the little shops with trinkets, fabric and crafts. I do love me some fabric!

Easter morning the children had an Easter egg hunt inside and outside in the little backyard. After going to church with Peter and Hannah, we went to lunch with my parents at The Greenfield Restaurant where I had the most exquisite scallops of my life. I think everyone else enjoyed their meals too, but I’m still raving about those scallops!

While my parents were here, they offered to watch our kids again so we could get away just with the two of us again.  This time we took a whirlwind trip to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico after we got back from our trip to DC and Lancaster with my parents. It was so good to have some relaxing time without the kids (as much as we love them!), getting to see some Mayan ruins, going snorkeling, and just working really hard at relaxing. I’m not even joking about that — when you’re always busy busy busy, it can be hard to relax! We were just so thankful that this was even a possibility, and that we could experience another piece of God’s beautiful creation, as well as get some great quality time as a couple.

Easter 2016

This year’s Easter was a busy but lovely one. We kept up the tradition of making hot cross buns and egg dying, which the kids always love,


and on Easter Sunday we hosted a large crowd of church folk for a yummy dinner, followed by some rousing hymn singing. It was such a great time with people enjoying each other’s company and having some great discussions, mainly on theology and life. It was so wonderful to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with such a neat bunch of people!

Before the dinner we had an Easter egg hunt for the kids, which was of course full of excitement.

And while we were all dressed in our Easter finery, we asked a friend from church to take a long-overdue family photo of us. We had a little fun posing in the street with midtown Manhattan in the background. Unfortunately I didn’t realise I had my transition lenses on (stupidest invention ever), so that doesn’t look the greatest, but that’s okay.

Enjoying a spot of sewing

The week before Easter I decided that I’d love for the girls to have new dresses for Easter (which is a bit of an American church tradition, it seems to me), but I really didn’t want to fork out $30 a dress (times three!), so I had a scratch in my fabric stash and decided to sew something with some fabric I got ages ago in the hopes of making the girls dresses. They were smaller then, and there were only two of them, so the fabric wasn’t quite enough to make a whole dress out of them, so I poked around the internet at how to use a T-shirt and turn it into a dress.

I found this twirly T-shirt dress tutorial, which was incredibly useful. I made a dress like that for Laurelin, but didn’t have enough fabric to make such twirly skirts for Marica and Esther too, so their skirts aren’t so full. I still think they turned out cute!

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For the flower on the sash I used this tutorial, but didn’t use the ‘flower maker’. You really don’t need it!

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The whole thing was so easy — I managed to make 3 dresses in one day, even with the kids running around me. The flowers took a little longer, but they were also surprisingly quick to make. Such fun to do a bit of sewing again — now the bug has bitten me again… I should finish that quilt I’ve been working on for over a year now!

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Easter this year was probably the most different for us as a family than what we’ve had before. Ben didn’t get Good Friday off, so it was really strange not to be able to go to church together as a family. We had our friend Jeremy stay with us for 2 nights, and so on Friday, he, the kids and I went to a local Anglican church. Despite there being a few things in the service that we didn’t feel comfortable with, it was nonetheless good to remember Jesus’ sacrifice with other believers.

The church was really beautiful, inside and out:

My parents sent the kids a nice package with new clothes and lots of chocolatey Easter goodies — thanks, Mamma & Pappa!

Here are the girls in their pretty new dresses. Marica was feeling cold, because I made her take off her coat for the photo, heh.

We then came home and had a nice lunch of warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven Hot Cross Buns. I’m still using the same recipe that I got from Ben’s old work colleague in Masterton — thanks, Gary!

In the afternoon the kids and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge again, this time with Jeremy (photos to come of when we walked it with Ben’s dad). It’s such a nice walk with very spectacular views — I’ll happily do it many more times!

On Saturday Jeremy and Ben went off to the Intrepid Land Sea and Air Museum and in the evening we had our friends the Ketchens over for dinner.

Sunday morning the kids went on an Easter egg hunt around the house. I really like the plastic eggs they have here in the States that you can fill with whatever you like. No more dirt in your eggs if you hide them outside! (Our hunt was inside, though.)

Marica in all her unbrushed glory, showing off some of her eggs.

And Esther certainly enjoyed her first Easter egg hunt!

Then it was off to our usual church for Sunday morning worship, this time in new dresses that I bought for the kids. Amoretti had 20% off, so I was very happy to finally have an excuse to get Marica the dress I’ve been ogling for over a year now! I thought I was very clever to get the next size up (the ‘she’ll grow into it’ mentality) but it really was a bit too long. Oh well, she’ll grow into it! :-)

Here are some cute pics of the kids at church. Abby and Esther sharing a moment:

Enjoying a lunch of some real New York bagels with cream cheese.

So, as for New York Easters, one down, one to go!

Celebrating Easter

Let me just start by saying that I loooove living in the northern hemisphere! The seasons and church calendar finally make sense! Christmas with snow, Easter with blossoms, summer holiday that doesn’t mix with Christmas. Celebrating Christmas here was great in that sense, and Easter is looking promising too.

(Now all you Kiwis with your eyebrows raised giving me that look of “You better come back!”, don’t worry. We’ll come back, despite the seasons being all wrong in the southern hemisphere. We miss you!)

Once a couple is married, it seems to take a few years to get some holiday traditions in place. Christmas now has a good number of traditions we like to repeat every year, but I’ve always felt that Easter has missed out a bit. It’s so excessively commercialised that it has just turned into an excuse to eat lots of chocolate for most people. Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate, of course!, but it seems that the old pagan traditions have now totally erased the Christian meaning of Easter, at least in public. I guess the cross or an empty tomb is just not as economically viable as fluffy chicks and eggs and cute little bunnies. (Talking about bunnies — our supermarket was selling skinned rabbit in the meat section today. That was a first for me — I had vague feelings about being grossed out, but that could just be because I’ve never eaten rabbit before!)

We celebrate Easter with so much hope, so much thankfulness, and bittersweet joy. Joy at the gift of sins forgiven — that nothing we could do could earn our salvation, only the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins — and joy at the gift of unearned eternal life. Bittersweet because it cost Him his life, He was humbled to become a man — a man who got hungry, who cried, who loved, who no doubt hit his finger with a hammer countless times, who probably got sore feet from all that walking. We celebrate the empty tomb, that death has lost its sting, that the serpent’s head has been crushed. So much reason to celebrate!

At Easter time I often feel the same way I feel when taking the Lord’s supper. On the one hand I want to cry because it was my sins that nailed him to that cross. On the other hand I want to jump out of my skin with joy that He stooped to save me. Unfathomable, but true.

So today, in preparation for this weekend, I went outside and picked some be-blossomed branches to make an Easter tree. Marica helped me make the few decorations, which was a very fun way to spend a morning together. I also have some hot cross bun dough rising in the kitchen — yum!

Here are some (not-so-great) photos of our Easter tree. Our trusty little point-and-shoot is on its last legs. :-(

And some detail of the decorations. Marica cut out the little yellow flower — it’s about the size of a quarter. I think she did pretty well!

Do you have any special Easter traditions? Tell me about them — I’m always looking for more ideas to make it special!