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.

Roadtrip ’16: Hoyt Reunion

After our great camping experience, we drove down to Columbia, SC, to spend the night and visit Ben’s parents’ old church where we got to meet people who knew them 40 years ago, which was pretty neat. Apparently Dad was a bit of a rebel back then, growing long hair. I’d love to see a photo of that! We drove past their old house, which was brand new when they bought it and looks a little bit different now.

dsc_0016

After church and a lovely lunch put on by some of the church folks for Mum and Dad, we drove west to Georgia for the long-awaited Hoyt reunion.

People came and went as they could; we were thankful we could be there a full week. Somewhere in the middle of the week we had around 70 people there! What a wonderful time visiting, talking, playing, eating Aunt Nora’s great food, swimming, dancing, and just generally loving being together. Pretty much everyone I talked to wished we could hang out longer and spend more time together. This reunion we had loads of little kiddies, which can make it tricky to visit in the evenings and which is probably why a bunch of us felt like it was all over too quickly.

Disclaimer: some of the photos on here are pilfered from Bryan, who managed to get shots of some things I didn’t.

During the day we met at Uncle Stan and Aunt Nora’s church hall for activities, meals, games, and more.

We went out for trips to a nature reserve one time, played baseball another day, and went swimming most days.

In the evenings we did a bit of a house-hop for visiting and endless games of Mafia. We also had people over to our cabin one night for a bonfire and s’mores, which was one of the highlights of the week for me, but somehow I didn’t get any photos of that.

We had the traditional evening of folk dancing, which is always riotous fun, twirling and hoping like crazy you remember the right steps and don’t break someone’s toes or something.

We got to do some swing dancing on the Friday night, which was great — another highlight for me.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Hoyt reunion without a talent show! We ended up having two of them — one more casual one on the Thursday afternoon and a more formal one at a beautiful church in the evening. So much amazing talent in one family is almost criminal.

It was great to see all the different licence plates from all over the States in the church parking lot. People traveled long distances!

There were a couple of trips to a nice restaurant in town called Grits (which, being the south, sounds like ‘gree-uhts’. Had it been the deep south it would have graduated to ‘guh-ree-uhts’). This was delightfully a kids-free event for me and Ben thanks to some kind cousins and grandma who babysat.

Our next few butterflies hatched while at the reunion. Man, they were pretty.

We were hosted by friends of Uncle Stan and Aunt Nora in a cabin on their beautiful tree-filled property that they use for guests and an office. Dan and Beth were such gracious and kind hosts. Beth has done a fantastic job of decorating in a really neat country-folk-meets-artsy style. That, coupled with the beautiful wood in the cabin, gave the cabin a really nice homey feel.

 

 

With our hosts and their grandson on the cabin porch.

dsc_0231-large

So, as wonderful and fun as these events are, there is a huge downside to them… they only happen once every 3 or 4 years. So, as a solution, I propose lots of little mini-reunions in the in between times! Not the same, but it helps with the withdraw symptoms. Come on round!

 

Roadtrip ’16: Monticello

This year was the happy year where a US Hoyt reunion took place. This time was again in Georgia, so back in June we took a two and a half week long roadtrip down south. It worked out well that Ben happened to be between jobs at that point so he took 3 weeks off, which was so great.

For the trip down to GA, Ben’s parents traveled with us (we had hosted them for a few days before we left) and although we didn’t drive together we joined Jeremy and Lillian on most of the stops. The first of these was at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. It was a bit of a rainy day, but thankfully the rain had mostly stopped by the time we were done with our house tour.

We took a tour of the house, which was pretty impressive, especially as it was obvious how much thought went into planning it and making it a practical space.

We looked around the grounds and gardens which were beautiful. I especially enjoyed the veggie gardens.

We also joined in on a tour about slavery on the Monticello plantation. Even though Thomas Jefferson opposed slavery, he still owned them which is a difficult thing to wrap your head around.

After a look around the gift shop (I bought a couple of packets of seeds from their veggie gardens to try growing in mine next year), and a nice picnic lunch, we headed down to Tennessee for camping — which I’ll tell you about next time!

DSC_0932 (Large)

He was tall! I’m even standing on my tippy toes.

Visit to New Zealand, part 4

A couple of days after Christmas Ben returned to the US, and the girls and I stayed in NZ for another 3 (full, but great) weeks. We met up with lots of family and friends and had such a great time that for the most part I forgot to take my camera along. I did manage to capture some photos of the more exciting or unusual things we did, but I’m afraid that many great conversations and cups of tea don’t feature in photographic form!

For me, the highlight of the last 3 weeks was the opportunity we got to sit down with so many people and to just get a chance to talk face to face. To spend time with family and friends — not doing anything unusual necessarily, but just enjoying each other’s company — was such a blessing.

At my parents’ house, it was so great to have many conversations and great meals together, for the kids to crawl into Oupa & Ouma’s bed early in the morning to watch kids’ TV shows, and to just spend time together. My parents had gone through a herculean effort to renovate the upstairs part of their house in time for us to be able to live up there comfortably. It was so lovely — 3 bedrooms and a bathroom all to ourselves. They even got bunk beds for the kids and special sheets and everything! Thanks again, Pappa & Mamma!

One day, my mum, the girls and I all got our hair cut. A fun way to spend a morning!

Another day we took a Sunday drive through Sumner

and then on through the Port Hills to Governor’s Bay where we stopped at She Chocolat for afternoon tea. It was probably my favorite afternoon of the whole trip (and not just because of the chocolate!).

Spending time with other family members was also a real highlight. Somehow I only got photos from the times we spent at Elrike’s house. The girls get along so well and had a real blast playing with their cousins (and I loved hanging out with Elrike!).

Bevan and Elrike have a pool, so a couple of times when the weather cooperated  there were some fun times in their pool with a whole bunch of cousins and aunts joining in.

Funny thing: one morning I turn up at her place and we’re both basically wearing the same outfit. We were both wearing denim bottoms, a black and white striped shirt, and a red necklace. And no, it was not pre-arranged. We got a real kick out of that.

IMG_2671 (Large)

For cousin Erika’s belated birthday celebrations, there was a morning with cousins at Chipmunks. I had never been before — it was pretty fun! The place is all padded so you basically let the kids loose and check on them every now and then to see that they haven’t broken their necks yet. For the rest of the time you sit and chat and drink coffee. Or something like that. :-)

To finish off the series of posts on our trip to New Zealand, I’ll share a couple of photos with you that I got to take in the cockpit of the big plane that flew us from NZ to Houston. The cabin crew are usually happy for you to see and photograph your kids in the cockpit. But argh, I was fumbling around with the camera and didn’t use the right settings, so these didn’t turn out so good.

Just look how these kids have grown since the last time I flew alone with them in 2012!

We had a long lay-over in Houston, so we didn’t feel rushed to get from one terminal to the next, which was great. It also kept the stress levels low when the immigration line took about an hour to get through — there are perks to long lay-overs!

The trip flying back was overall a good one. Saying goodbye is always hard. Marica and I were struggling to keep it together after waving goodbye to everyone, but Esther and Laurelin were super excited to go on the plane again and to see Ben! So the tears got wiped, shoulders got squared and we got on with the business of flying. The flight to Auckland is always such a nice short flight and I find the walk between the terminals refreshing. We had a good amount of time — not too little, not too much before we caught our next flight. For that one, we had the luxury of booking a skycouch (a row of 3 seats that have a flap by the feet that can lift up and form a sort of bed), and the seat next to me across the aisle was empty too, so the kids were all able to lie down and sleep for a good long time on the flight from Auckland to Houston. Thankfully they were able to sleep through the ratbag boy a couple of rows in front of us who screamed at the top of his lungs for half an hour at a time, a few times… but I couldn’t quite do it. I gave the lady some Benadryl (she said she was so desperate for it she’d buy it from me, ha!), but I’m not sure it helped. I felt really bad for them. By the time we got on the plane to Newark, we were all so exhausted I think we were all asleep before take-off! Which meant, of course, that by the time we arrived home around midnight, we wanted some dinner and weren’t particularly tired. In our experience, jet-lag going to New Zealand is almost non-existent. Coming here, though, it takes about 2 weeks to fully recover from. I always say it takes that long for my soul to reconnect with my body — I just don’t feel like myself for a while! Maybe bodies weren’t made to travel so fast. :-) I’m thankful for it, though! It makes a trip home so much more do-able than if we had to spend 2 months on a boat to get there.

Thanks again, all you NZ folks, for making our time back home so special. We loved seeing all of you!

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!

Tips on travelling long-haul with little kids

As we prepare to take a trip back to NZ for Christmas, I’m looking back at this post again (originally posted in March 2012) to refresh my memory on what’s useful to take and what to do to make life easier when travelling long haul with kids. It’s been a few years since I’ve posted this, so I thought I’d repost it in case it can be helpful to others!

I recently travelled from New York to Christchurch, New Zealand to attend Jeremy and Lillian’s wedding with Marica (4) and Esther (2). Without my husband. Many people have asked how the 26-hour trip went, and as I thought about how anxious I was before the trip, and how many other people are in that same boat every day, I thought I’d do a little post on some things that made our trip easier for anyone out there who might benefit from it. I am not a seasoned traveller and I don’t claim to have all the answers,  but here are some things I recommend:

  • Talk with your kids about your upcoming trip. I found reading books like this one very valuable to familiarise them with what to expect. We did role playing where we went through pretend security, we sat on the couch as if we were on the plane seats, did pretend take-off and got sore ears. I wanted them to know to expect sore ears, even if I was going to do all I could to help with that!
  • Get them excited about the trip by buying some special toys and (colouring) books. I showed some to them, and kept some as a surprise. I found this colouring book and this little sticker book provided a lot of bang for my buck.

Be prepared in your own mind:

  • Get a good attitude about your upcoming trip. Your kids will feed off whatever vibes you give off — if you’re excited, they’ll be excited, if you show your anxiety, they’ll be anxious. I found lots of prayer helped, as well as some specific Bible verses to help me focus on the fact that I’m in the hand of the Creator of the Universe. That puts a little plane trip (and all those ‘what if’ worries) into perspective really quickly!
  • Read about what other people have found to be helpful or good. I found deliciousbaby.com to be a wonderful resource. It’s so good, I don’t really know why I’m bothering with this post other than to give my own experience!
  • Look up the layout of the airports you’ll be visiting, and know how to get from one terminal to the next. You don’t want to have only a couple of hours to transfer between terminals (like me) and have 3 sets of people tell you 3 different ways of getting to the next terminal. I got there in time, but it added extra stress I didn’t need.
  • Know how long each flight will be, and whether or not the flight will have in-flight entertainment. If it does not have in-flight entertainment, you’ll want to pack accordingly (more on that soon).
  • Find out whether or not you get complimentary food on the flight — if not, you’ll want to pack snacks. The snacks and food on the plane are ridiculously expensive. More on that soon too.
  • Don’t expect to fly as if you’re alone. Serve these little people, not yourself. Even if you’re flying long-haul, chances are that you won’t get to watch a whole movie, and that’s okay. Be patient with them. Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Chances are you want to know what to pack, and how much. The what I’ll list below, the how much I’d answer with however much you can fit into one backpack. You want your hands free to deal with your kids — whatever you do, please don’t try to maximise on your carry-on luggage allowance. You’ll get frazzled trying to get everything through security and down the narrow airplane aisles on top of trying to carry a kid (or two) who just had a melt-down. Don’t even go there. One backpack is enough.

Having said that, I did find it useful to take an empty canvas shopping bag with me. What went in here were our winter jackets once we were through security (we were flying from mid-winter to mid-summer) and my camera. When we were about to board, I would also put a few activities in there to get us started for the flight, and that bag went under the seat in front of me while the backpack went into the overhead compartment.

Here are some things to pack, regardless of the length of your flight:

  • Pack empty water bottles for your children. These can be filled once you’re through security. It’s easier for them to have drink bottles on hand when they need them, and they’re less likely to spill than those little plastic cups. Even if you don’t have something for them to chew or suck during take-off and landing, drinking some water might help their ears not to hurt so much.
  • Pack a spare set of clothing for each of you. You might not need it, but you sure will be glad to have a fresh shirt to change into if you get vomited on (I didn’t, I’m just saying). Pack each set into a gallon-sized ziplock bag and push all the air out to make it more compact. The ziplock will also come in handy if you have stinky poopy pants that need to go somewhere (that I did have).
  • If your child has a special toy and/or cuddly, make sure you take it. Same goes for a pacifier (they’re very helpful for take-off and landing too).
  • Chewing gum or chewy candy or lollipops for kids to chew and suck during take-off and landing to help their ears pop and get used to the changes in air pressure.
  • Pack plenty of diapers and wipes. Think how many diapers you need in a worse-case scenario, and then add a few more, just in case. Wipes are so versatile — wiping the tray in the seat back in front of you, wiping dirty faces and hands or runny noses, and of course little bottoms!
  • Pack some tylenol and band-aids, just in case. I also pack sinus medication because I tend to get infected sinuses when I fly.

We had 3 flights from New York to Christchurch, and the hardest one was not the 12 hour flight between LAX and Auckland as you would expect. It was that cross country 6-hour flight between JFK and LAX, and we were flying United. The in-flight entertainment consisted of bad TV shows on those little screens hanging from the ceiling above the aisle, so it wasn’t even an option for the kids. There was also no complimentary food on the flight, though the drinks were. These things are a mild nuisance that aren’t a big deal if you’re flying alone. When you add kids into this equation, however, you need to come prepared for pretty much full-time, hands-on entertainment/distraction.

If this is how you’ll be flying, you should pack:

  • Fun snacks. Things that have protein, like nuts, cheese sticks or beef jerky. This will tide you over better than just carbs. Animal crackers turn eating into a game of talking animals, goldfish swimming into your mouth. Take your time eating. Get some special treat snacks like small snack-size bags of M&Ms, or candy in the shape of something that could become some sort of character in some sort of story you’ll make up on the spot. It will be ridiculous and it will be wonderfully fun for your kidsIf you have to pack a lunch or dinner, be practical — make sure it’s something that’s not messy and that they love to eat. Nutrition is not your biggest concern for the next few hours, just relax about that. When you get to your destination you can eat properly again.
  • Fun activities. You know your child best — don’t pack things they don’t enjoy doing! Here are some ideas that worked for us: new colouring-in books, paint-with-water books, wiki stix, small pottles of play-doh, finger puppets, polly pockets, books with multiple stories and lots of pictures, an etch-a-sketch, a notebook just too doodle in. For more ideas, check out this page.

If you’re crossing time zones, or flying during or past bedtime, be prepared for tired children. Chances are they’ll do better than you expect, but chances are there will be some grumpiness and crying. Do what you can to comfort them (or to get them to sleep!) but realise that it probably is going to happen and relax about it. If you get all uptight, it’s not going to help your kids stop crying. People on the plane are usually pretty good about it, especially if they’ve seen you interacting with your kids in a good way during the rest of your flight. You might get some dirty looks, but those who give them are probably single and just have no idea. Their day will come too.

If you’re flying long-haul, there are some extra challenges (like the length of the fight), but also some things that make it easier. The cabin crew are more understanding and helpful, you can request snacks for your kids pretty much any time during the flight, there are change ‘tables’ in most of the lavatories, there are in-flight entertainment screens with kids’ shows and games on the seat in front of you, and kids are usually given some sort of activity bag. Yes, the flight is longer, but that means that your kids will probably get to the point of exhaustion and want to sleep. Here are some things that can make long-haul flights easier:

  • Fly at night. This helps reduce jet-lag and hopefully guarantees some sleep.
  • Give your kids plenty of physical exercise on the day of your flight, or if you’re in transit, let them do star jumps or such things to get some wiggles out. I packed a small container of bubbles for them to catch during transit (not for on the plane!) and they loved that. Just make sure it’s less than 100ml, though.
  • Try to keep a bit of a bed-time routine. I packed the kids’ pajamas, a small bottle for milk for Esther (the cabin crew are happy to give you some milk in reasonable quantities), and of course their cuddlies and special toys, and a dummy/pacifier for Esther. This showed them that it was now time to sleep.
  • This next one’s possibly going to be a bit controversial. Two different friends who are nurses recommended Benadryl to me. I’ve never been one to give my kids medical sleeping aids, and I was reluctant to try it, but one of my nurse friends is a pediatric nurse, so I felt comfortable with her advice and went and bought our first ever bottle of benadryl. I talked to her about dosage so I wouldn’t overdose them (!) and then I tried it out before our trip. Benadryl can make some people hyper, and I didn’t want that happening on the plane. It worked beautifully. When we put the kids’ pajamas on for sleep time, I gave them a little Benadryl, gave Esther some milk, and soon enough they were asleep. They slept for about 6 hours, which I thought rather fantastic under the circumstances, and were not drowsy than usual when they woke up at breakfast time.
  • Sleep when your kids sleep! There might only be a few hours where both kids are asleep at the same time, so make the most of it. That is NOT the time to watch a movie. You might be able to squeeze in a movie while they’re watching something too.
  • Go for little walks down the aisle, but not while everyone else is trying to sleep, or when the cabin crew is trying to serve a meal.
  • I know they say keep your seatbelt on even when the light is not on, but seriously, who can do that with a 2-year-old? Let the kid stand up on the seat or look out the window or drape herself over you for crying out loud. Of course, you teach them that the seatbelt has to go on when the seatbelt light goes on and that is non-negotiable. Include that in your role playing beforehand.
  • One of my big questions beforehand were what to do if you need to go to the toilet?! Well, if they’re both asleep you just climb over them and go. If they’re both awake, you can do one of two things: 1) Try to cram all of you into the cubicle. Good luck. 2) Ask one of the cabin crew to stay with your kids. They’re usually happy to do this so long as they’re not in the middle of serving dinner. Oh, and just another little note on the airplane lavatories — warn your kids that it makes a very loud noise when it flushes, they can really get a fright if they don’t know to expect it.

And lastly, if time allows, ask one of the cabin crew if your kids may see the cockpit once the plane has landed and most people are off the plane. I had talked with the kids about the plane’s layout and so they knew what the cockpit was and that the pilot flew the plane. They were very keen to see it and thrilled to be allowed in there. This pilot was particularly nice and even allowed them to sit in the pilot and co-pilot seats. They also got a little card with the details of the plane on it, and a pilot’s badge for kids.

I’ve surely left some things out, but look around at some other sites. Remember that even a long-haul flight is only a short time in the scheme of things. Make it a short time your children will remember fondly, even if you won’t!

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.