Monday, April 30, 2007

It's a Jungle Out There

OK, don't laugh, but in our 7 years of married life we have always rented and therefore never been responsible for the yard work. Well, we had put off mowing the lawn far too long as evidenced by the photo below. However, we were unsuccessful in getting the mower to work, so Trey took hedge clippers and clipped the lawn by hand. He has the blisters to prove it. Pretty impressive, huh? Oh, and don't worry. We're working on getting the mower situation sorted out.

BEFORE

AFTER


Friday, April 27, 2007

Melt My Heart

I had hoped this day would come, and I knew when it did it would melt my heart. This morning as I had just finished drying and straightening my hair, Addison paused from his busy-ness, gazed up at me, and in the sweetest voice said, "So pretty." I leaned down to him and he reached out to stroke my hair and said just above a whisper, "Soffff!"

I have no words to describe how I felt -- only that I wish you could bottle such moments for when you feel down.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

This morning Trey and I watched a Dateline NBC special about an American businessman living in Nicaragua, Eric Volz, who was convicted in February of raping and murdering his ex-girlfriend. Despite overwhelming eyewitness testimony that Volz was more than two hours away when the crime was committed, he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison in a trial with so much local buzz surrounding it that it has been compared with the OJ Simpson case. He is currently appealing the verdict, which is the obvious result of a massive anti-American media campaign in Nicaragua. His parents had the following video produced and put on YouTube as a way of raising awareness about his predicament

As an American living abroad, I have to say that this story is truly disturbing. We take for granted that in the US there is a presumption of innocence. Sadly, that is not the case in many other countries. In fact, if you watch the Dateline report, you will hear the prosecutor speak about how Volz's defense team failed to prove his innocence. While I certainly take issue with her interpretation of their defense strategy, I particularly bristle at the idea that the burden of proof falls upon the accused. I have a feeling, of course, now that this story has hit the US media, the verdict will be overturned.

Our Little Mommy

Who says boys can't be maternal? This morning while I was getting dressed, Addison, as is usual, was wandering around our bedroom finding things to occupy himself. He had brought his Buzz Lightyear action figure upstairs with him, and, much to my amusement, decided that "Buzzy" needed a diaper change. One of the greatest joys of having a toddler is observing them in the moments when they don't think you're watching. Their little imaginations and private conversations are captivating. I could hear Addison talking to himself, "Buzzy. Diaper change. Wipe." I keep a stash of diaper-changing accessories for Davis by my bedside table, and Addison proceeded to get what he needed to do the job -- a package of wipes and a diaper. He lay Buzzy down on the bed and wiped him all over while talking gently to him.

It was a truly priceless moment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scottish Elections

On May 3rd the citizens of this fair country will go to the polls for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections held every four years. I was fascinated to find out that the current Scottish Parliament was only created as recently as 1999. You can read all about the upcoming elections by clicking on the link above.

There are five major parties involved in this election: Labour Party, Scottish National Party, Conservative and Unionist Party, Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish Green Party. Here is what each party is claiming they will do (at least according to the literature that's been flooding our mail).

Labour Party
  • Create new jobs
  • Build new schools
  • Provide more affordable housing
  • Crack down on crime
  • Improve public transportation
  • Reduce NHS wait lists for key operations
  • Accommodate the needs of the elderly

Scottish National Party

  • Invest in local infrastructure
  • Replace current Council Tax with a fairer Local Income Tax based on ability to pay rather than house valuation
  • Reduce massive student debt
  • End fuel poverty among the elderly
  • Support small businesses
  • Remove weapons of mass destruction from Scotland
  • Solve the dental crisis in the NHS
  • Hold independent referendum to allow the people to decide the way forward

Conservative and Unionist Party

  • Interestingly I haven't gotten anything in the mail from them. Hmmmm...

Liberal Democrats

  • Cut crime
  • Build new health care centers for faster diagnosis and treatment
  • Promote green measures to protect the environment
  • Reduce class size by building new schools and hiring additional teachers as well as fight the childhood obesity problem with an hour of physical activity a day in schools

Scottish Green Party

  • Improve rail and bus service rather than expand roads and airport facilities
  • Help local businesses and give communities a voice in planning decisions
  • Create new jobs in renewable energy
  • Provide warm, affordable, energy-efficient homes for all
  • Protect and improve public services, such as the NHS, Eduction, and Water

Monday, April 23, 2007

Crazy Sleep Positions

We finally got Addison's new bed a week ago Friday. Another American couple was moving back to the States and had circulated among the University community a list of items they were selling. We purchased their convertible crib/toddler bed for $28! It's beautiful and fits perfectly in his room. So now Davis is ready to inherit the pack'n'play, which, as you can see from the following picture, Addison had pretty much outgrown.
Needless to say, Addison's bizarre sleep postures have not changed since the switch. I honestly don't know how he can sleep that way.
You will note in both photos that Sully from Disney's Monsters, Inc. has joined Baby on the night crew. He was an Easter present from Mommy and Daddy.

In the Buff at the Beach

We did not know that Aberdeen had nude beaches, but yesterday proved us wrong. The afternoon was clear and beautiful, and the temperatures soared, yes soared, into the 60s. After all three men had gotten their Sunday afternoon naps, we headed down to the beach for some family time. It was gorgeous. The tide was way in, the breeze was moderate, and the sky was clear. Addison frolicked on the sand running as though pulled by a magnet to the water and then scampering away as the waves rolled in. Amidst the lighthearted jollity, I noticed a teenage boy down the beach in warm-up pants kicking a soccer ball. But something was amiss. He had his pants pulled down below his backside parading the glory of his full moon. Great! So Trey and I ignore the chap and continue enjoying the beautiful early evening. As we finally head back to the promenade to don our shoes and socks and make our way home for dinner, I glance down the beach and see that now the young man has lost his pants entirely. Yes, that's right. He's running around completely naked on the beach. Yikes! No one, and by no one I mean me, wants to see that. Of course, it appeared to be a dare because his ridiculous group of friends were hanging over the railing of the promenade laughing hysterically. Either that or a little too much drinky, drinky, smokey, smokey. Or maybe all three rolled into one.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It Happened Again

We got locked out. Well, more precisely, Trey got locked out thanks to Addison. This is how it went down:

I was at Morrison's supermarket yesterday doing our semi-weekly grocery shopping. Trey was home with the boys. When I left, Davis had just gone down for his afternoon nap and Addison was just waking up. About 1/3 of the way through my shopping all of a sudden I hear my name and Trey is standing in front of me. He's in short sleeves and looks frozen to the bone. "Addison locked me out. I was putting the trash outside and he closed the door behind me. Do you have your keys on you?" I was stunned. Believe it or not, this has actually happened to me once before, but Trey was in the house so I just knocked to get back in. This time, however, no one else was inside to let Trey back in. Apparently Addison thought it was hilarious to close the door on Daddy not realizing from his limited two-year old perspective that the front door automatically locks when closed, imprisoning him and Davis inside, keeping Trey out in the freezing cold. With no other viable option, Trey was forced to trudge the 3/4 of a mile to Morrison's to get my keys. After Trey left with them, I started thinking about all the horrible things that could happen to Addison unsupervised and I had to stop myself. "He is in God's hands and he will be fine," I thought. Sure enough, he was. He was playing contentedly with his toys when Trey got home. Thankfully the gate to the upstairs was locked, so he was limited to our fairly baby-proof first floor. Davis was safe and sound asleep in his Moses basket upstairs. Never even knew we were gone.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Can anyone say hide-a-key???

Friday, April 20, 2007

Nobody Wants Jane

Or rather nobody wants Jane Austen's portrait. Since my love of her novels is well-documented, the following story caught my eye. Thursday this portrait of Austen was put up for auction at Christie's in New York and sadly did not sell. The authenticity of the painting has been called into question by scholars who claim that the dress's empire waistline is from a later period than the one from which the painting itself dates. So now no one wants to touch it with a 10-foot pole...or parasol in this case. Apparently 18th-century fashion is an actual specialty.

Ironically after failing to interest the National Portrait Gallery in London in the painting, the owners brought it to America where "it has more friends". I'm not sure whether to be flattered or offended.

Really, I think, the only appropriate response is to echo the words of Mrs. Elton: "I do not profess to be an expert in the field of fashion (though my friends say I have quite the eye) but I can tell you, there is a shocking lack of satin!"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fat Bicylce

I've finally started giving back on Freecycle. Among other things, I recently unloaded a dial bathroom scale because we bought a digital one. (I just can't lose weight when I can hardly see the tick marks on the scale and each one is worth 2 lbs. because it measures in kilos and stones. I can't stay motivated with such large increments of progress.) The gentleman who received the item was planning to use it to weigh himself and his bicycle before and after his upcoming holiday. He collected it Tuesday, and today he posted a thank you on Freecycle which read:

Re: Thanks to Rebecca Holloway

For the spotless bathroom scales. Have discovered that my bicycle needs to lose a few kilos.

Thanks,
David Robertson.

Two-Month Check-Up

This morning I took Davis for his two-month check-up and shots. He was an angel. I remember taking Addison for his first series of shots, and it took Trey and me probably 15 minutes to get him calmed down and then only after nursing. Davis, on the other hand, was a total trooper. He quieted down within a minute or two and promptly fell asleep when we got home utterly exhausted from the morning's activity.

He is my little peanut weighing 10 lbs., 11 oz. (25th percentile) and measuring 21 3/4" (9th percentile), but in true Holloway boy fashion, his head is on the large side (75th percentile).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April Is the Cruelest Month


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
~T.S. Eliot
And so begins arguably the best poem in American literature, The Wasteland. It immediately came to my mind as I contemplated what I wanted to say in this blog. Yes, the news of the Virginia Tech tragedy has reached all the way across the Atlantic. As I stood in line today at Tesco to buy a few grocery items, the shooter's picture was on the front page of all the newspapers. Just yesterday I was talking with my brother about the events at Virginia Tech and the strange coincidence that this unbelievable atrocity should happen 4 days shy of the 8 year anniversary of Columbine. I clearly remember coming home that sunny April day after having been at Rutgers. It was my freshman year. I remember watching live footage in total disbelief as a student covered in blood hung out an upper classroom window waving for help, and I thought to myself, "How scary that this happened at a school while I was at school." But then I thought, "This kind of thing doesn't happen at colleges." What irony.

It is odd that some of the most tragic events in American history have happened in the month of April -- the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic, the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the shooting at Columbine High School. There is something even uglier about these events occurring in a month when the world around us is springing to new life.

We pray for healing and comfort for the students and families affected by the shooting at Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Brotherly Love

It's a match made in heaven. After not even noticing his brother for the first 3 weeks after his arrival, Addison has suddenly fallen in love with Davis. He lights up when he's around. When Davis cries, he either says with concern on his brow, "Davis hungry?" or "Don't cry, Davis." Yesterday was the clincher. While I was eating my breakfast, Addison was hovering around the baby seat talking gently to Davis. He clutched a miniature car in one hand and a motorcyle in the other, and then, after first driving the vehicle over Davis's shoulders and head, which seemed to delight Davis, Addison offered the treasure to him, completely unprompted saying, "Davis, cycle?" What a truly beautiful moment to observe. Addison is at that age when sharing is impossibly elusive and gentleness unknown, and yet when it comes to his brother, he seems to want to do the right thing. It's like we don't even have to tell him how to behave with Davis because he instinctively knows -- something so unexpected for our rough-and-tumble two-year old. And then later when I attempted to remove the tiny motorcyle nestled in Davis's arms, Addison would have none of it. "Davis, cycle!" he emphatically informed me.

These are the moments that make all the hard days worth it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder...it does. NJ Governer Jon Corzine was seriously injured in a car accident yesterday when his SUV was struck by another vehicle while enroute -- get this -- to attend the meeting between Don Imus and the players from the Rutgers women's basketball team.

I wish the Governer a speedy recovery, but I must confess to laughing in disbelief when I read the story. It almost seems too weird to be true. I'm telling you, you can't make this kind of news up. It's a great state, isn't it?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Trey on completing the first chapter of his dissertation! He's too modest to want me to mention it here, but I think periodic updates and celebrations are certainly in order as he achieves various milestones.

Commercial Culture

One of the huge differences about life in the UK is the lack of commercialism by contrast to the US. It manifests itself in all sorts of ways, one of the most obvious to me was the refreshingly understated commercial push at the holidays. Sometimes, however, it gets under my skin because customer service goes hand-in-hand with consumer awareness. If you seek to please your customers in all you do, then presumably you will bend over backwards to serve them. If that's not a top concern, then it can leave your customers frustrated and unhappy, case in point our BT interactions.

This is my long lead-in to a story that's been brewing all week back in the US over the racial comments made by Don Imus on his radio program about the Rutgers women's basketball team. NBC initially suspended the "shock jock" for a period of 2 weeks. However, just last night they decided to pull the plug on the show and will no longer simulcast his program on their cable network MSNBC. This has made the lead story on the NBC nightly news every night for the past 3 nights -- a clear attempt, in my opinion, to distance the network from Imus despite the fact that a serious war continues to rage in Iraq and actually IS headline news. Somehow in their opinion this is the most pressing news of the day. That aside, however, what interests me the most is the reason that NBC ultimately decided to cancel Imus's program from their morning line-up. Of course, there are the reasons they give and then the real reason. The firing was announced after Proctor & Gamble, which earns more than $68 billion in revenue annually, decided to pull all their ads from the network unless Imus was fired.

Please don't let me give you the wrong impression. I think Imus's words were utterly reprehensible. I take offense as a woman and as a Rutgers alum, but most of all as a Christian who believes the law of kindness should proceed from our mouths, not ugly, hateful speech. However, the hidden story here seems to be the fact that, once again, the almighty dollar reigns supreme in American culture. NBC was only willing to go so far until the threat of monetary action loomed. I hang my head when moral initiative is dictated by commercialism.

Come on, NBC. Man up! If you believe Imus did something worth firing him for, then fire him -- not because it may hurt your pocketbook but because it's the right thing to do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh, the Irony






You can't make this stuff up because no one would believe you.

Last week, in an effort to promote the sale of Easter candy, the UK grocery store chain Somerfield issued a press release disclosing the results of a survey it had conducted designed to gauge the average Briton's understanding of Easter. However, the dismal results of the survey, which revealed widespread ignorance, weren't the most appalling part of the press release. Somerfield claimed that the holiday celebrated the birth of Christ. But, wait! It gets even better. When the error was pointed out, the chain reissued the press release stating that the holiday actually celebrated the re-birth of Christ.

I'm not sure which error is worse. You can read all about the debacle yourself here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Inteview Debut

Yes, that's right. Tonight I am being interviewed as an expert witness *cough, cough* on the NHS (National Health Service) here in the UK. A friend of mine is doing a paper comparing the healthcare systems in the US and UK. Ironically enough, we were just at the doctor's office today. Yesterday I found a lump on the back of Davis's neck. I don't normally rush right off to the doctor, but this concerned me. Turns out it's just an enlarged lymph node, probably from all the lovely germs floating around our house right now (Addison and I are sharing a cold).

So back to the interview, which will be conducted via Skype (isn't technology amazing?). Should I wear the power suit from Missterious? (pardon The Office joke)

1985 Called...

...and wants its grainy photo technology back. Please excuse the sarcasm. Saturday I picked up the photo of Davis from the PixiFoto experiment. The above is what I got (a corner of the cardboard frame can be seen in the lower right-hand corner -- I scanned the image into our computer). I spent about 30 seconds reviewing the other photos that could be purchased for an outrageous £40 with each subsequent set costing £10. The math was a little fuzzy, however. There were only 8 sets total, and I was informed I could purchase the whole lot for the steal of £120??? Obviously, in addition to photography, math is not their strong suit. Anyway, the photos of Addison were so dark it looked like we had dyed his hair the color of Trey's. I very politely informed the sales lady that I would only be taking the photo I had already paid for. She looked shocked. "You mean you don't want any of the others?" OK, she picked the wrong person to ask this question. I worked in Advertising for 4 1/2 years. "The lighting is really dark and my son's hair looks totally different. So, thanks, but I'm just going to stick with this one for now," I replied.

Like I said. We'll see you at Christmas, Target!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Warning - TMI

Now that I have your attention, I have to share a little Addison anecdote that just happened. It's too funny not to blog about, but I'm giving fair warning that it's a little crass. (TMI, for the uninitiated, is cyber lingo for Too Much Information.)

I just got Addison up from his nap and, before bringing him downstairs, proceeded to change his diaper. I discovered, to my great pleasure, that he was more than just wet. As I'm cleaning him up, he matter-of-factly announces, "Dump!"

I promise he did not learn that from me...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter

Hyacinths are the smell of Easter for me. I have this vivid childhood memory of coming downstairs Easter morning to the combined smell of hyacinths and chocolate from our Easter baskets. As you may have already guessed from my post the other day, I am a smell-oriented person.

Today I had another little "whiff" of home. Wednesday Trey bought me a hyacinth in a galvanized pot -- three bulbs with nothing more than about two inches of green poking their heads out. I had little expectation that we would have flowers by Easter, but, hoping against hope, I watered the bulbs and put them in my kitchen window. We were blessed all week with lots of sunshine, and I could see the leaves and buds advancing a little further each day. Yesterday I thought to myself, "It'll be open by Monday."

Well, when we got home from church this afternoon, I pulled the kitchen curtains open, and what do you think I found? The hyacinths were in full bloom! And the fragrance filled the kitchen. Don't laught, but I pulled out some chocolate from the cupboard, closed my eyes, and just enjoyed the memories.

We wish you all a very Happy Easter and hope you enjoy the new photos added to the Easter album. He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Big Milestone

Last night Davis slept all the way through the night! He ate around 7:45 pm, and I put him to bed at 8:00 pm. He didn't wake up again to eat until 5:45 am! Who would ever think that 5:45 am would feel so luxurious? Only mothers who have been there...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Blanket

I don't know if you remember me mentioning it, but back in January when I was 50 months pregnant and couldn't move, I took up knitting. I started a baby blanket for Davis. Well, I am delighted to announce that I finally finished it last night -- all 260 rows.




A close-up so you can see the flecks of yellow and green in the yarn.


Baby D enjoying his new blanket.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Smell Memories

I'm sure you've had the experience where all of a sudden you smell something and it transports you back in time to a certain place or event. The memory is so strong you feel like you're back in that very place experiencing the same emotions and physical sensations. It can be downright overwhelming.

Well, I had that happen today. The temperatures soared into the mid-sixties, and it almost felt like summer...almost. Tonight while I was taking the wash off the line, I got a whiff of our neighbor's barbeque. The combination of warm air and grilled food, well I might as well have been at a ballgame or down the shore. I closed my eyes and I was home...for a moment.

What I Found Last Night

Last night on my way to bed, I poked my head into Addison's room. This is what I found. Not sure if Baby is hugging or wrestling him. Either way, Addison was totally oblivious.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Photo Albums

In the past with only one child to keep up with, it was sufficient to have Addison's many photos scattered throughout the other photo albums, but now I'd like to dedicate an album to each boy. You know -- to those many silly photos you take throughout the day that capture the priceless moments of childhood. So each boy now has an album bearing his name and the current year to help keep things straight as this blog progresses hopefully for the duration of our stay here in Scotland. As I add new pictures, I'll let you know and list the date in the title of each album.

So go ahead and check out Addison's new album!