Random thoughts

The last couple of months have looked a little different to our usual routines. I’ve had a relapse of the Epstein-Barr virus which wiped me out but I seem to be feeling a fair bit better the last week or so; Ben’s been looking at different job options and has had multiple interviews with several different companies (no decision yet, though). Summer is upon us (hooray!) and I’m getting less and less inclined to do anything that resembles regular duties around here. The combination of the above three things have made for a rather unusual and unpredictable spring.

The girls are all doing well — in good health and spirits (most of the time), for which we’re thankful. Marica and Esther are now both voracious readers, and Laurelin, like a typical youngest sibling, wants to do everything they do. I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts reading at 3 — and not because I’m pushing her!

We’ve got 1 more week of homeschooling before we stop for the summer. Marica and I are looking forward to the break. Esther would like to do school all the way through! I’ve enrolled Laurelin in a preschool for 3 mornings a week starting in July. I’m hoping this will help the two older girls and me get some more focused schoolwork done.

I planted a veggie garden in the spring. It’s been really satisfying to see things sprout and grow. I keep going out there and thinking I should go get my camera to document it… but I haven’t. Gardening is such a nice chore, especially when you get to eat the fruit of your labor. We’ve had quite a few nice salads and herbs already, and look forward to a good crop of tomatoes, beans and more.

Politics is of course one of those topics that you can’t get away from these days. The general sentiment among the people I mix with is one of despondency — having to choose between bad and worse does not fill one with warm fuzzies. My main thought through all this has been: “How did it get to this?!” Ben and I have really appreciated this article written by Andrew Sullivan for New York Magazine that basically answers that question. It’s long, but well worth the read.

This summer is promising to be a lovely one. We’re looking forward to another Hoyt reunion in Georgia; a trip to Tennessee for cousin Hannah’s wedding; a trip to Vermont; several visitors — Ben’s parents, his brother and family, cousins, and some friends; the girls are all doing some sort of ‘summer camp’ — Marica to an overnight one, Esther to a daytime art camp, and Laurelin is doing a special programme at her new preschool. Add to that a plan to have many relaxing days at our friends’ pool, playdates with friends, picnics, ice pops, an abundance of summer fruit and sprinkler fun, and we’ve got ourselves a great summer to look forward to!

And on that note, if the posting on here becomes a little sporadic over the next few months, just imagine I’m trying to learn what ‘relax’ means again after a busy year. (Truth is I’ll probably be trying to get all the things done that don’t get done during the year like clearing out trash drawers and mending clothes and planning school for next year. But those things, when done, bring a certain kind of satisfaction that helps the whole relaxing thing!)

Visit to New Zealand, part 3

I know this isn’t technically part of our trip to New Zealand, but I didn’t really want to make a whole separate post for these photos I took before we left. December was unseasonably warm, so one evening while Ben worked late, I took the kids on a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the lights on people’s houses. I love our new neighborhood — lots of friendly people, and people really seem to take pride in keeping their properties looking nice and tidy (or decorating for the season!).

Marica took part in our homeschool co-op’s Entrepreneurial Fair again last year, expanding a bit on our inventory from the previous year, and made about double the amount of money we made last year. Well done, girl!

Back to New Zealand, now. :-)

It was really great to be able to spend Christmas with family. As is my family’s custom, we did our gift-giving celebrations on Christmas Eve, after going to church with my parents. Marica and Esther shared the handing out of gifts, and it was a joy to see people open their gifts, especially the kids’ eager excitement.

On Christmas Day we went to church in the morning and after that to Ben’s parents’ place along with a whole bunch of other family to celebrate. The weather was nice and warm, so the barbecue and salad lunch and the water balloon volleyball in the park after lunch worked well! (Everyone here in the States who I told about our Christmas just couldn’t believe that you could have a barbecue for Christmas!)

Again, it was such a delight to be able to spend the day with people we love.

Next week will be the last post on our trip to NZ. I know you’re all waiting with bated breath. :-)

Visit to New Zealand, part 2

A couple of days after we arrived, we headed out of town to Mt Hutt in the Southern Alps for a Hoyt reunion. I think it had been the first time in almost 6 years that everyone were together again — Mum & Dad, all 8 siblings, plus spouses and kids — and it was fantastic.

Because it was cold and rainy most of the time (there were about 2 nice warm days, though), a lot more time was spent indoors than was anticipated, so even though it got a little noisy at times, it was nice to get time to talk, play board games and drink copious cups of tea.

Here’s a little photographic sampling of our time together.

The drive there and back was beautiful. Some photos have a bit of window glare, sorry!

 

Inside, we had gift givings (Secret Santa for the kids; white elephant for the adults), games, naps in front of the fireplace, food preparation, a talent show, a programming competition between Ben, Bryan, Berwyn and Ed, ASL classes by Lillian, some really good devotions from Berwyn, and of course it wouldn’t be a Hoyt reunion without some very long theological debates on some minute point!

And all sorts of fun was had outside when the weather was nice: littlies on the playground, team building games, archery, an epic water slide, water balloon fights (and other fun stuff like swimming in the river, and abseiling that I didn’t get photos of).

Christmas photos will be in Part 3, next week!

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.