A fun family tradition we try to do on a weekly basis during the school year is "Pizza and a Movie Night." I make homemade pizza and we pick a movie to watch together as a family. Since none of the kids are enrolled in traditional school this year, we can really do this any night we want, but we usually try for either Thursday or Friday evenings, depending on if we have a weekend group at the camp or not.
On Sunday, February 4th, we host a Superbowl Party in the evening at our house. One of the reasons we wanted to enlarge our house was so that we could host large groups of people more comfortably. It is nice to be able to open up our home for fellowship, fun, and community. Lots of our "gringo" friends come to hang out and watch the Eagles soar to victory over the Patriots. Everyone brings appetizers and finger-foods to share, and we enjoy yummy treats like Tanya's queso dip made with Velveeta and Ro-tel brought from the States!
Just before the Carnaval holiday (a 2-day public holiday here in Ecuador just before the beginning of Lent), we plan a day of water games and activities for the kids in the after-school program. They have a shaving cream and water balloon fight, and we set up a giant slip-and-slide on the hill just below our house. Some years, the weather is cold and rainy and not really conducive to this kind of outdoor fun. This year, however, we have a warm and sunny afternoon -- perfect for getting wet!
Elizabeth celebrates her fourth birthday on February 8th. We celebrate at home with a ballet slipper cake, the new "Beauty and the Beast," and presents. We also plan an outing with the cousins to Mr. Joy (a huge indoor play arena in Quito), followed by a sleepover at their house. The cousins love spending time together, and we try to plan an outing or a sleepover at least once every month or two. It is easier to arrange our schedules this year since Julie started homeschooling her kids.
Rusty does some marriage counseling using Prepare/Enrich with a couple from the Pisulí Church. Since they live so far away and it's difficult to plan a weekly meeting, we have them out to the camp to spend the night and do some intensive counseling. Then, later on the next week, over the Carnaval holiday, Rusty meets them at their home in Quito to do another day-long session.
The Carnaval holiday coincides this year with the school semester break. Schools are out for an entire week, which means the after-school program is also cancelled. Most of our staff take some vacation days, so it is pretty quiet at the camp. It's still a school week for my kids since we homeschool, but we also plan a field trip with the Marcum family to the Condor Park (a bird-of-prey sanctuary) in Otavalo. I do some organizing and straightening in the camp store-rooms. We celebrate Valentine's Day with a fondue dinner (cheese fondue followed by chocolate fondue), and we watch a lot of the Winter Olympics. The kids play outside with the slip-and-slide nearly every day until I dry it off and store it. They love to get wet!
The break was nice and over too quickly. The week after Carnaval is super busy. I work on updating the bulletin boards that hang in the camp dining hall and teach my English classes. Some friends and I host a baby shower for Syndi, who is due in April, and I make three sheet-cakes for one of our employees to share with friends and family at the special mass being held for his sister who recently passed away.
We have been planning a team retreat for the leadership team at Camp Bellevue (Rusty and I, Guillermo and Syndi, and Seyber), and our families. However, we have to cancel due to an unforeseen circumstance. We are pretty disappointed because there is literally not a single other weekend between now and the end of the summer that is available for us to reschedule. However, we decide to meet together at the camp on Friday afternoon for a "mini-retreat," and then we all go to dinner in Cayambe with our families.
A computer store in Quito where we have a contact has agreed to donate four refurbished computers to the after-school program's library. They send a couple of techs out one Saturday at the end of February to deliver the computers and set them up for us. We are pretty excited about this as the computers we have been using are very old and very slow. The computers in the library get used a lot, especially by the older kids when they have homework that requires the use of Internet, and we are thankful they will have some more modern equipment to use.
The final few days of February find me doing some planning for our spring break groups (menus, bills, etc.), which begin arriving in early March. We also celebrate Alex's 12th birthday! He asks for a 12-layer cake. I try to oblige, but it is pretty much a disaster. At least it tastes okay. My kids entirely overestimate my abilities as a baker and decorator!
February moments (clockwise from top left:)
- Carnaval fun on the slip-and-slide
- Dinner at the Vaca Loca with the camp leadership team and our families
- Superbowl party -- friends, food, and football!
- Alex is 12! Wait, when did that happen?
- Baby shower for Syndi
- At Mr. Joy with the cousins -- It's fun to dress up like a princess (unless you're a boy, of course)!