Backyard: late June

6 June 2
The fuschias are dying but the butterflies and hummingbirds still love them.

12 June backyard 1
sweet peas

12 June backyard 2
vegetable garden! We’ve harvested some greens to put in salads.

12 June backyard 3

12 June backyard 5
planting sunflower starts. If we plant directly in the soil the squirrels dig up the seeds.

12 June backyard 7
No idea if the squirrels are going to let us have any of these to eat but I sure hope they do!

12 June backyard 9
peonies grow well here! We have enjoyed cutting them for ourselves and others and haven’t felt bad about that because of how big and heavy they get.

12 June backyard 11
my favorite flowers are asymmetrical ones like columbine and fuschia, but peonies are beautiful too.

12 June backyard 12
Ezra fixed the bird house.

12 June backyard 15
jars to protect plants and help them stay warm

21 June

26 June Simon the Baby bunny
The sunflower-eating culprit.

Summer: Japan VS Dubai

Dubai:
Upsides: AC everywhere and you rarely have to go outside except between cars and buildings!
Downsides: MUCH hotter than Japan, humidity is worst at night, and it doesn’t really cool down (still in 90s!). The humidity may not be as bad, but because of a lack of breeze, it feels stickier than in Japan. There are days that are less hot but they’re still all HOT from June-August and mostly hot in May and September.

Japan:
Upsides: Much less hot, and the evenings are nice (low humidity + cool), so you can still go out sometimes, there is a BREEZE. Humidity feels more wet than sticky. There are “off days” where the weather is nice. Summer is shorter than in Dubai!
Downsides: The Japanese use air conditioning and most places DO have it, but they skimp on it. Because it’s a much more pedestrian/public transport place, the heat is unavoidable unless you drive. BUGS. Typhoons (occasionally, and typhoon season goes beyond summer anyway).

I prefer summer in Japan to summer in Dubai (and I say that having been pregnant in the summer in Japan and being in the country all summer, neither of which were ever the case in Dubai), because the evenings and early mornings are nice enough to go out and enjoy being outside. But that said, I definitely prefer hot weather to cold weather and humidity to dry weather, as long as I’m prepared to sweat (that’s the only way to cope… just expect to sweat!).

It’s also been interesting to see how they handle the heat here – yes, people go out less, but they are also prepared with paper fans (that are surprisingly effective!), hydration, umbrellas as parasols, wash cloths to wipe sweat away, and some women will wear long gloves to protect their skin from the sun (I haven’t tried them; they seem like they would be WAY too hot!).

But even so… I’m glad the weather is cooling off. 😉

Read to Win + Christian Musician in Paperback!

If you want some summer reading AND a chance to win prizes, you’ll be excited to hear about Read to Win, hosted over at Homeschool Authors.

The Christian Musician and all of the other books in the event will be on sale for 99c for all or part of the summer (June 1 – August 31), and if you read and review one, you get entered in drawings for great prizes (including a big grand prize Amazon gift card!). Every week there will be challenges posted on Homeschooled Authors that all of the authors have participated in.
The Christian Musician will be 99c for Kindle for the whole June-August time frame AND you can now purchase it in PAPERBACK from Amazon or CreateSpace. If you’re also doing Tim Challies’ reading challenge, it fits well in the “book under 100 pages” category.

Nostalgia: Summer

This is the first summer since 2005 I’ve been at home for all of the summer except a 2-week vacation. 2006 we moved at the beginning of August, and then every summer till 2014 we went back to the US, and in 2014 I was gone for 2 months because of Ezra’s school in Rhode Island, our road trip, Csehy, and then family time in the Northwest. Being at home all summer brings back so many memories of growing up in Michigan.

The muggy cool mornings with a hint of the day’s heat (S and I go for long walks in the mornings and it makes me think of the mornings daddy used to take us to the park on our bikes).
The cool evenings with late sunsets (I wish S didn’t go to bed so early so we could take walks again!).
Afternoons swimming (but not like the freezing cold pool we took swim lessons in).
Giant, homegrown zucchini (from friends who had the usual over-abundance… I can’t wait until we can have a garden like we had growing up).

I can’t wait until S is old enough to do more summer-y things with her. If we were going to be here longer and our apartment was more conducive to it I’d set up a bin or little pool for her to splash in on our balcony.
I love how cheap summer fruits like cherries and peaches get (relatively speaking, anyway), and so much watermelon (eating it frozen is so good!), and all things fresh, cool, and green. And homemade ice cream and iced tea and kombucha.

I always said fall was my favorite, but there’s something really wonderful about summer, too.


{And Celtic festivals! I hope someday to find one as good as the one we had in Michigan, though it won’t be the same, especially without Cait’s pipe band}

Pacific Northwest 2014


{clouds enroute from Csehy to Seattle}

Ezra picked me up at the airport in Seattle and then we drove to his grandparents’ cabin where most of his family and extended family were already gathered. We stayed there for three nights and parts of four days.

{putting in a bench}


{throwing knives}


{these were relatively clean!}


{down at the swimming hole}

{the water is freezing cold so most of the fun is working up the courage to dunk or jump in}


{celebrating his grandparents’ 60th anniversary}


{skit/talent night}


{hiking}

And then we went to my grandparents’ for a few days to see them, my extended family, and my mom and younger siblings who were there for part of the summer. I didn’t take many pictures, but we had lots of good times, eating s’mores, thrifting, a street fair, hiking…

{gramma blazing a trail through spiderwebs}


{sorting through some of my toddler and baby clothes}

And for our last stop before heading back to home, we spent a few days at home with Ezra’s family, going on walks, playing games, and transferring my driver’s license and getting my name changed on it.

We enjoyed our whole trip – Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Carolinas, Csehy, Washington, and Oregon – but were so ready to be at home together and get back to “normal life” and routine, although just what that is we don’t really know looking ahead to moving apartments and having a baby.

And the final numbers from all our driving:
East Coast vacation: 25.25 hours, 1698.5+ miles (those miles don’t include our trip to NY which was a different car). We had stops in two places in NY, two in the Baltimore area, near Roanoke, Charlotte, and Charleston, then headed back to Cait’s. Ezra had to go back home for work and some more training.
Then a few days later I went to Richmond via Greyhound then Houghton with friends, stopping to spend the night with relatives. By the time we got to Csehy it was 18 hours of travel time from Cait’s to Csehy.
And then after a flight to the West Coast we drove to the cabin – 1 hour 45 minutes, then to gramma’s – 2 hours – and then to Ezra’s family’s house – 3 1/2 hours – 7.2 hours.

The grand total?
51.50 hours of driving, which got us through the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, all of The Two Towers, the beginning of Return of the King, and part of an audiobook of Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live.”

Since I probably won’t do a separate July post, these are a few good links:
This woman I’ve mentioned before, a member of our church fighting throat cancer. She went to heaven July 8th, and I was greatly encouraged by reading her obituary.
Good writing articles – I didn’t read all of them, but the ones I did read were good!
The Maestro – you may not be able to read it without a membership, but this is a World article on a Catholic conductor. He talks a lot about the effect of music on us, both positively and negatively – if certain music can heal, then we also need to consider that certain music can have the reverse effect – and how that effect can and does make music spiritual.
I’m not sure how long this is free for, but good food for thought by the Botkin Sisters.

May


{slowly, slowly making progress on reeds}


{we drove up North a bit to see I&M and stopped partway down for lunch with Ezra’s relatives}

And the next day we went to the zoo!


{the one tomato we got before our plant got pot-bound and died}


{sunset walks}

I also had two prenatal appointments and we solidified where we want to have the baby, which was a huge stressor for a bit so a huge answer to prayer when that all got worked out. Both appointments went well. Not without some difficulties but in many ways I was grateful for those since I was able to see that the midwives and the nurses and I are a good fit and that they can help me when I’m nervous about something (like the copious amounts of blood tests).
Ezra’s cousins were also in town for a debate tournament, while he was already on the East Coast. I enjoyed getting to know them more and also not being so lonely with him gone!


{taking the plants to a friend so they didn’t die while we’re away}

And then I flew all night long to join E on the East Coast where he has some training.

{hotel room cookin’}


{we rented bikes on Memorial Day and explored the town}


{we’re getting better at this whole selfie thing}

The next weekend we rented a car and drove down to where Ezra went to college.


{explaining turbines and engines}

favorite recipes// Ginger Chicken Stir-fry with Asparagus // Popped Amaranth Peanut Butter Cups {I left out the powdered sugar} // Rosemary Olive Oil Bread // Peach Rosemary Crisp {I left out rosemary and used some honey, not agave} // Spinach Artichoke White Pizza

things learned// you can make a lot with just a Keurig and a microwave. The easiest things? gnocchi and couscous. // I have a temperamental baby bump – sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s not // second trimester energy isn’t always true… still sleeping 10-12 hours a night // all it takes to play something perfectly is focus // Ezra and I are really good at having adventures, like trying to hike around the island after dark and climbing lots and lots of ladders (and then I get to the top and remember how much I hate coming down).

best of online// 40 Maps that Explain the Middle East

thinking about// devos for Csehy // surprises // baby registry // Isaiah 40 in every situation

what brings joy// hearing baby’s heart beat // hot meals // warm weather // running seaside trails // Ezra home for three meals a day

Seattle


The only problem with Seattle in July and August is few clouds.


Outside Starbucks (I felt like a college kid or something, sitting in Starbucks for 6 hours to use their internet) – Mount Peak and Mount Rainier behind it. Mt. Peak is a favorite hike of mine, and I did it by myself this year, which was an adventure, from wrong google maps directions to taking a wrong trail and not being able to run up like I had hoped. But I made it there and back, and while not running the trail I still did take it pretty quickly. … now the hiking bug that bit me this summer is begging to go again but I can’t take it anywhere…


I was down by the creek for some quiet, and kitty followed me.


And then this cutie came to visit. 🙂


{Lake Tapps}


Sometimes we do get clouds, though. 😉


The annual big clan get-together – Wiffle Ball!


I was slightly distracted by the clouds.


That night Hannah and I went out to lie in the field on a tarp and between unzipped sleeping bags and look at stars. We saw 9 shooting stars and all the constellations I knew and the Milky Way was very faint. And then we heard a lot of coyotes not too far away and decided they were coming down the lane to attack us so we ran inside.


Sweet Necessities – the best place in town


Re-taking old pictures


{Picnic at Point Defiance}


{playing with her Aunts}



The night before we left, I went out to stargaze, but the sky was totally covered by clouds. I went back out a half-hour later and there were still no stars, but as I turned to go in I saw a flash of lightning. I called the others out because there was a beautiful storm behind the mountain, and the lightning would light up the mountain and the clouds in the distance. It’s amazing how everywhere we look we can see His power.

And I wasn’t great about keeping a “blessing list” going this summer. I often wasn’t around pen and paper to write them down and if I had been it would have been mostly about clouds and stars. I was keeping it in my head and giving thanks to God so often.


{siblings}