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.

MeRF Getaway

Back in June, some folks in our church (MeRF = Messiah’s Reformed Fellowship) headed out to Pennsylvania for a getaway at Kirby House, a beautiful old house that was once used by the Kirby family as their summer home in the mountains.

It was really great to spend some decent time with church folks. Our church is a commuter church so most of our fellowship times happen on Sundays because it is so difficult to get together during the week. So, having a weekend to spend time together was great. I didn’t take many photos, which is a shame because the grounds are gorgeous, but I was spending time with people instead.

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I handed my camera off to someone else to take the real photo — this one was me getting the settings right — but the ‘real’ photo didn’t turn out, so this is the best I’ve got!

We had some good talks led by Pastor Murphy, time for swimming and walks, and just hanging out enjoying each other’s company. We also had a talent evening, which was fun!

Looking forward to the next one!

It’s been a decade

Like I said last week, it’s been cold here! However, Ben and I did have a blessed little escape from the cold back in January for 3 nights, when we eloped to Jamaica while my parents looked after our kids. Wait, you can’t elope when you’re already married… Well, it was to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We figured a decade is a pretty momentous occasion, so we decided to do something pretty momentous. Jamaica was fantastic — a really relaxing few days, the snorkeling amazing (which we did every day right off the cliffs of our hotel and one day at a nearby reef), the weather perfect, and the company just like the weather.

It was fun to walk to the nearby town one day and get a taste of local culture. I’d say it felt like Africa in the Caribbean, which probably isn’t very original. We bought some trinkets and I got my hair braided. We also had the yummiest fruit popsicles ever.

The hotel where we were staying had lovely gardens with all sorts of interesting plants.

We were right on the ocean, and had stunning views especially of the sunsets. Each of the 3 sunsets we saw were different!

Our hotel was lovely — the setting beautiful, the staff super-friendly, and the whole atmosphere just so relaxing. If it weren’t for these photos, I’d think it was just a dream!

I have been so blessed to be married to Ben for the last 10 years. I can rave about all his wonderful qualities for hours, but it’ll make him blush. :-) You could say I was just a child when I said ‘yes’ (I was just 19!), but I still reckon it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

May there be many more decades!

Camping in the wilds of New Jersey

The first weekend in September we went camping with Lillian and Jeremy and Shanna at High Point State Park. We didn’t really know what to expect, seeing that we had never been there before, but we were up for trying it — our very first camping trip in the U.S.! Ben took the Friday off work and we were at the campgrounds by lunchtime, which was great to set up camp and all that. What wasn’t so great was that it was predicted to rain all that weekend. We weren’t going to be deterred!

We were right next to a lake. There was the little misunderstanding about how I thought the lake in the photos would be the same one we’d be camping next to, but that was a little further up the road, a bit cleaner and swim-able. The one we were next to was definitely not a swimming lake. It was pretty, though!

It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend. I was so ready to get out of the city! It was wonderful to enjoy nature, enjoy Jeremy and Lillian’s company, enjoy camping food (barbecued meat! potato salad! marshmallows!), and to smell like sweat, smoke and insect repellent (yeah, I’m weird. I kinda like that smell. For a couple of days, anyway!).

We went for a walk around the lake. It was a very pretty walk, and we also got to see all sorts of interesting flowers and critters!

We were so blessed that the rain that was predicted to be drizzling all day really only came after dinner on Saturday night. We even got to make stick bread, one of my favourite childhood Voortrekker (scout) camping memories — bread shaped on the end of a stick, roasted over the fire. Like a marshmallow, only longer. :-) I was having so much fun, I neglected to take a photo of it, which is a shame. Well, when the rain came, it really came down something fierce. I think two storms passed over us during the night, but we were all nice and snug in the tents, and in the morning the sun rose brightly and dried off our tent in time for us to pack it up!

We did get to spend some time at the lake in the photos too where the water in the taps were also a little less brown than at the pump by our campsite, so we filled up our bottles there. On the day we left just Ben and the kids and I went back and there was some sort of community event that let people use kayaks and canoes for free. I stayed on the sidelines with a tired Laurelin, and Ben and the two older girls enjoyed the free kayaks.

We all got home very tired, but it was a good kind of tired.

Fruit picking in Princeton

At the end of July (boy, how is it that the end of July is already months ago??) I took the girls fruit picking at Terhune Orchards just outside of Princeton. It’s a lovely place, and it’s always so nice to pick your own produce. What made this little trip even nicer was that Lillian with Shanna (and her mother-in-law Hilary, for a little while) met us there. It was a great morning of berry picking, picnic food eating and drinking in country life. I’ll pretty much just let the photos do the rest of the talking.

A morning in Montclair

A few Saturdays ago, we headed about 20 minutes west to Montclair for a bit of a greenery and suburban fix. We just had a little picnic morning tea in a park, the girls ran around, and we admired the big mansions surrounding the park.

Walking down the road looking at some of the little shops, we spotted this cool mosaic:

An impromptu lunch at a Mexican restaurant topped it all off!