Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The day dawned bright and mild, and as I hung the wash in the warm early morning breeze the promise of a perfect beach day beckoned. I had to take Addison to the North Sea. Once Davis was down for his morning nap, we headed out full of anticipation and excitement. I parked the buggy on the sand, pulled off our sandles, and out we ventured onto the beach. As Addison delighted in the tidal pools and sea polished stones, I snapped some pictures. The tide was way out and we slowly worked our way down to the water's edge. Addison was caught between a magical, magnetic pull towards the water and a child's fear of its awesome power, a paradoxical combination of emotion that this picture totally captures.
Once by the waves, I took some video of Addison, which you can see here just before the fateful event.
When I stopped shooting the video, Addison didn't stop moving away from the waves. Intead, he continued heading toward that tidal pool, which got deep...fast. And all of sudden, he tripped, fell, and plunged face-first into the water. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. I ran towards him as he pushed himself above the water and fell under again. I'm sure it was only a matter of seconds by the time I reached him, but it felt like forever. I pulled him out of the water saying, "It's OK. It's OK." He was coughing and choking on sea water, and once on firm ground burst into tears.
Once he calmed down, he wanted to go back to the waves, me holding him, of course, but as soon as I got near them he started freaking out and saying, "Go back! Go back!" Now the healthy fear he had of the ocean has snowballed into a full-blown phobia. This evening when we went down to the beach as a family, Addison wouldn't even go near the sand unless Daddy held him.
You can see the rest of the photos from the beach excursion in the Summer 2007 album. Ah, the traumas of toddlerhood.
Monday, July 30, 2007
We took quite a few video clips during our time in Edinburgh. Pictures can only capture one dimension, but with video you can get more of a feel for the bustle and festivity of the city. If only there were a way to feed other things through the internet, like the smells. Just wait...I'm sure that technology is around the corner.
A panoramic view of the Royal Mile. You can hear both piping and guitar playing from two different street performers in this video.
One of at least 5 or 6 different pipers we saw playing throughout the city. This one was really good and he was earning money for some sort of humanitarian trip to Tanzania, so we had to contribute.
Some amazing folk performers standing just outside the entrance to the Castle. They were fantastic!
The tartan weaving exhibit at another tourist-trap, Scottish shop just outside the Castle. Despite the totally inflated prices and Celtic kitsch, it was a pretty interesting place.
A street magician.
The fountain outside Holyrood.
More from the fountain. You can see Arthur's Seat in the background, the highest peek in Holyrood Park. Holyrood is like the Highlands in miniature right in the heart of Edinburgh. We didn't get to climb it this time, but we hope to do it at some point.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Scottish thistles were growing all along the cliffs leading up to Edinburgh Castle.
A view of the Castle from below.
The Scott Monument in honor of Sir Walter Scott.
The Mound with Edinburgh Castle off in the distance.
The North Bridge, which runs past the Balmoral Hotel.
National Monument (right) and Nelson's Monument (left).
John Knox House on the Royal Mile.
Lunch at Pancho Villa's, a real Tex Mex restaurant right in the heart of Edinburgh!
Davis and Mommy.
Addison enjoying his quesadilla.
Ice cream after lunch.
Trying to sleep on the run.
Addison and Daddy.
Friday, July 27, 2007
We just got back from 2 days in Edinburgh for a mini family holiday. I promise to blog more about it, but in the meantime I had to share these images scrawled in chalk across statues and buildings along the Royal Mile. When I saw them, I said to Trey, "This is a blog!" They epitomize the North/South clash that exists on this island, and we love it -- the sentiment, not the graffiti.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
In addition, I upgraded the weather link at the bottom to a more prominent widget at the top and I added a BBC news feed so that you could see what is going on in our world over here. I hope you find these changes helpful. Let me know if you think of any others. I always want to be upgrading and improving the blog.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Trey spotted some video this morning on US news a thieving seagull named Sam in Scotland who has been stealing Doritos from a convenience store. The news story I've included here is not what we saw -- obviously this report makes it clear where the thieving is occurring. We saw an American report with just the raw cellphone footage a customer took of the bird stealing the crisps. As I was watching the video I said, "Trey, that's Aberdeen." You can see the cobbled street and granite buildings. It's unmistakable. We found the full story here on BBC news, which mentioned the name of the convenience store, RS McColl. I thought for a second and said, "That's got to be Castlegate," and sure enough, as we read further, the story mentioned that this gull makes Castlegate his home. How exciting to have Aberdeen in the news, even for such a silly reason.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
So where do I find the time? The simple answer is...I make the time. For me, blogging is a priority. It's become almost a compulsion. Many days in the week something will happen and Trey or I will say, "That would be a good blog." It is my way of reaching out to all of you who I miss so much and think of every single day. It enables me to share our life here, bridging the gap over thousands of miles, reaching across the cultural divide, bringing you into our home daily. It makes me feel less alone as though I were actually having a conversation with you. It has been my therapy when I have been depressed, my soapbox when something has been on my mind, my diary celebrating major life events. I have found that the more I write, the more I want to write, and for the first time in my life -- I believe thanks to the thousands of words I've recorded here -- I have started writing poetry, short stories, and essays, not for a grade or a professor, but for my own enjoyment. Who knows where it will lead? I said to Trey when we first arrived that I had a feeling our time in Aberdeen might draw out the book I've always felt lay somewhere deep inside me. I feel that even more strongly today than I did then. So I keep writing. They say that the best authors write what they know. Their muse is life, the ordinary, mundane experiences that constitute our brief time on this little planet.
I say I make the time, but my life is no less busy than it was a year ago before we moved here. However, how I choose to spend my time is quite different. Just one year ago, an ordinary day in my life looked something like this: up at 6am to get ready for work, out the door and on the road by 7am, work at my job from 8-4:30, drive home in lovely Philadelphia traffic for at least an hour, quick bite of dinner (usually cereal because there was no time to plan meals or cook), and then once Addison was in bed at 7:30 loll on the couch watching TV until I fell asleep too exhausted to do anything worthwhile. Now, on the other hand, my life couldn't be more different. Blessedly I get up later, enjoying a leisurely morning in my jammies. Once Davis goes down for his morning nap, Addison and I get dressed, I do the morning dishes, hang up the wet laundry, and put in some new wash. Of course the day is broken up with all sorts of other things, diaper changes, feeding sessions, reading time, puzzle assembly, cleaning, grocery shopping, family walks. Every day is a little different, and by the time both boys are in bed and I draw my breath, I am more exhausted than I was a year ago after a full day at the office. Major difference? This is my ME TIME, a few hours when no one needs anything and I can knit or read or surf online in total peace and quiet with a cup of Cadbury hot chocolate and a couple biscuits (Ginger Nuts usually). It is then I catch my second wind and settle in to enjoy the evening.
Despite the demands of motherhood, the pace of my life is actually quite slow. The external world places no demands on my time. There is no rushing here and there, no traffic jams or long lines. No one rings my non-existant cell phone. I don't lose hours in front of the television. So when do I blog? Often in the morning right after breakfast while Davis is napping and Addison is playing happily with his toys. Sometimes it doesn't work out to blog then, so I write while they both nap in the afternoon. If that doesn't work out, I wait until after they're in bed, but you can rest assured, I will make the time.
Three weeks after Davis was born, I stepped on the scale for the first time and discovered that I had about 32 lbs. left to lose -- more weight than some women ever gain in their entire pregnancy. I could have cried. What a depressing moment. Over the next month I managed to lose 7 lbs., but then I hit a wall. A dear friend here recommended Weight Watchers since they tailor their program for nursing mothers. I had heard many good things about Weight Watchers, so I decided to give it a try. Well, my first week I lost 3 1/2 lbs. Same thing the second week. Here I am 3 1/2 months later, and I have lost ALL of the weight from both pregnancies plus another pound.
Remember my snail post? It definitely applies here! Boy, it got really hard at the end. I thought those last 5 lbs. would kill me. I was so close to my goal, but so sick of dieting. In the end it was the goodness of God that helped me persevere. He gave me the most devoted husband in the world who stood on the sidelines and cheered me the whole way. He gave me wonderful friends and family who encouraged and supported my efforts. And now with almost 2 stones lost on Weight Watchers and 4 stones altogether, I give thanks to Him for this personal victory at the end of a 2 1/2 year journey!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Here's the larger original.
Notice the twin peaks of St. Machar in the distance. Where but here can you watch an ordinary football game in the shadow of an ancient cathedral?
The three of us at one end of the formal garden. A nice passerby took our photo. Don't worry. Davis is just out of camera shot asleep in the double buggy. If you look closely, you can see the top of St. Machar poking above the tree line.
I discovered the nifty flower close-up setting on my camera which fuzzes out everything in the background (yes, that's the technical term for the setting). Obviously, I have zero photographic expertise. Even so, some of the photos, like this one, didn't turn out half bad.
Friday, July 20, 2007
You may notice that Buzz's helmet seems a little foggy. They both got a "bath" last night in the washing machine contrary to the manufacturer instructions. Buzz's helmet was obviously not waterproof, but I'm sure the moisture will evaporate in time.
And now for the funny story that accompanies these toys. When I got home, I ran upstairs to Trey's office excited to show off my finds. Trey was also delighted, and since we could hear Addison banging about in his crib, nap over, we thought it would be fun to give him the dolls right there. We crept up to the door, Trey pushed it slightly open, and, without turning on the light, poked Woody's head around the door. All we could hear was a terrified shriek. Even after the lights were turned on and Daddy held Addison, it took us a while to get him to even look at the toys. He obviously thought they were real. After all, in Toy Story they do come to life when the humans leave the room. It was a strange scene to watch. Clearly the line of reality and non-reality is very blurry for two year olds. Now, of course, all is forgotten, and he wouldn't nap this afternoon without them.
Davis has now graduated to facing forward in the Snugli. He loves it. This picture shows him about to accompany me on a little trip to Tesco. The other day we went grocery shopping as a family, and Trey "wore" Davis. On the walk home -- and mind you it was raining -- he fell asleep and his head lolled forward bouncing up and down the entire way home. I felt so bad, but he didn't seem to mind, laid-back, mild-mannered, and sweet-tempered as ever.
Davis has now discovered toys. I noticed him "playing" with his binky a lot. He'd take it out of his mouth, transferring it between his hands, contemplating it philosophically, and then popping it back in his mouth. It dawned on me that it might be time to get out some rattles and other baby toys. Of course, Addison has tried to take over Davis's stash. I often find them interspersed with his own toys and puzzles, as if he didn't have enough to play with. I know this is only the beginning of that war. However, Addison also enjoys piling Davis's toys all over him or on top of him, and I caught this great shot right after Addison had done so. As usual, Davis doesn't seem in the least bit bothered by it.
I got this picture this afternoon. I have been trying to be faithful in giving Davis "tummy time". He doesn't much care for it. It's been a real struggle to get him to prop his 95th percentile head up on those little 5th percentile arms -- poor kid! But as of the last few days, he's doing quite well, and I was even able to get a few pictures. He's also starting to sit a little. The other day I let go for about 10 seconds and he didn't topple over immediately. He also really enjoys standing while you provide him some balance. Again, I'm amazed at how strong his scrawny little legs are. He gets so proud of himself when he's standing. I'll have to take some video for you to see.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Yesterday evening as Trey embarked on a twilight constitutional, he called me outside to see a lone snail inching its way along our front path. Its forward progress was almost imperceptible, yet unmistakable. "I guess that's where we get the saying 'a snail's pace'," Trey laughed, but by the time he returned from his walk, the snail had gone quite a distance and even later that night disappeared altogether.
There is surely a metaphor in this. Be it a project, a personal goal, an impending trip home, or a PhD dissertation (*wink, wink*) every moment of every day brings us a little bit closer. In the words of Bill Murray's What About Bob? success is measured in baby steps. It is easy to become discouraged by the seeming lack of progress. Somtimes I feel like I utter the same things a million times a day, "Say please," or, "No hitting," but I know that this interminable litany of admonishments ends somewhere in a resounding, "Good job! Your kids turned out OK." In the meantime, as I ponder the endless supply of dirty diapers generated by my two little rapscallions or number the days until we come back to the States for the first time (146 days -- but who's counting?), I should remember this smallest of teachers, the snail, who despite a top speed of 0.03mph manages to get there in the end.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The ever sweet Davis getting a bath in the usual roasting pan. Just like his big bro, he loves "This Little Piggy".
Addison lost in his own little world. I love when Trey gets candid video of him and you get a glimpse into his young imagination.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
And right now Scotland is a-bloom with thistles. They grow wild in the most unexpected places, untended flower beds, rocky crags, sandy soil along the beach. They look prickly and delicate all at the same time, capturing the essence of this great land's beauty in miniature.
The thistle is a delicacy of the goldfinch who feasts on her seeds and, not surprisingly, is the 10th most commonly spotted bird in Scotland. In fact, I, myself, saw a beautiful one just the other day.
Monday, July 16, 2007
I have seen more rainbows from my kitchen window in the past 11 months than in the entire rest of my life. It's the nature of the weather patterns here since it is not uncommon to experience rain and sunshine at the same time. The rainbows generally occur at the same time of day, late afternoon or early evening, since at that particular time of day the light from the sun is at the perfect angle to separate out the colors of the spectrum.
I took some footage of a rainbow this past Saturday. You first see it out our back door over the rooftops across the alley. Then I got out front where you can see the sun shining through the raindrops. As many times as I've seen a rainbow, it still inspires awe. It was one of those natural phenomena, like a sunset, that never grows tiresome or mundane.
But back to the gooseberries. I wasn't quite sure what to do with them, but after perusing allrecipes.com, I found a yummy Gooseberry Sour Cream Pie recipe that I think I'll have to try and let you know how it is.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
'Tis the season for cricket, that all-English game that vaguely resembles the all-American game baseball. I did a little reading on it before posting this and discovered that it has a lot of the same lingo as baseball but with very different rules. This is what I gather. The bowler, what we know as a pitcher, throws a ball towards the batsman who attempts to deflect the ball with the cricket bat to keep it from knocking down the wicket he's standing in front of. The hit ball is then fielded by the opposing team's players while the batsman runs back and forth from his wicket to the wicket where the bowler is standing. In this way runs are scored and the team at the end of the game with the most runs wins. I confess I don't know anymore than that. What happens if the bowler hits the wicket? How do the fielders get the batsman out? Do they have the infield fly rule??? Just kidding.
So as we wait with bated breath for Mr. Bonds to break Mr. Aaron's homerun record, enjoy this clip from the playing fields of King's College of a more gentlemanly game un-plagued by allegations of steroid use whose uniform consists of preppy sweaters and white slacks. It just seems more civilized.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
God Save the Queen is the national anthem of Great Britain sung to the tune that most Americans know as My Country, Tis of Thee. I included the singing of it in the graduation video, and here is the clip on its own. The words date back to the mid-18th century although several variations of the lyrics exist. The title obviously changes depending on the gender of the current British monarch. The song has three verses with an anti-Scottish fourth verse that was rejected shortly after the song was written.
Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.
You've got to love the English/Scottish relationship! Here is a reproduction of one of the earliest publications of the song along with its other verses.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
From about April to October you could reasonably call King's College Chapel the Wedding Factory. Every Saturday, it serves as the venue for at least tw weddings. You will remember that last October I did a blog about weddings, but this time, I have some actual footage to share along with a couple of interesting tidbits that you will note from the video:
It is mandatory to hire (rent) a white Rolls Royce or antique Mercedes as bridal transportation. The car will always have streamers attached to the front just as you see in the video. You will never see limousines. The only limo I've ever seen in town is a garish bubble gum pink one that ladies hire for their hen night (bachelorette party -- another blog, I promise).
Women, particularly women over 30, wear brightly colored hats to weddings -- fuschia, lime, tangerine. You cannot miss them. They dot the crowd like vibrant flowers.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The first couple of mornings they were together were interesting. Addison didn't like the fact that I would get Davis for his morning feed, leaving Addison in his crib, but we've discovered that if we give Addison a few books or a car, he will play contentedly in his crib until the more godly hour of 7am. We sort of have an unspoken rule that no one is getting up before then.
So as of Sunday, we made the complete switch. I've put the Moses basket away (thank goodness -- Davis was just about filling its entire length), and he has graduated to the pack'n'play. They are even napping together and astonishingly it's working.
Here's the trick for naptime. Put Addison down around 1pm, a little later than normal so he's good and tired and falls into a deep sleep fairly quickly. Then nurse Davis to sleep and put him in the room. It's worked so far. Yesterday, I made the mistake of running the washing machine during their naps and Davis woke up. Addison's used to the noise of the final spin. His bedroom is right above our kitchen where the washing machine is, but Davis has not yet achieved that ability. He woke crying only an hour into his nap and I had to fetch him quickly before he got Addison completely awake. I told Addison to lie back down -- that it wasn't time to get up yet, and to my complete shock he went right back to sleep for another couple of hours. See, this is what I hoped would happen. They would learn to get used to each other's noises and sleep patterns.
Now for bedtime, the routine is exactly the opposite of naptime. I put Davis down at 7am in case he fusses or whatever, and then once he's asleep, we put Addison down under strict orders to BE QUIET! Addison takes a very long time to unwind and fall asleep at night -- anywhere from 1-2 hours. We discussed it with him and explained that he would be sharing a room with Davis now and that he needed to be super quiet so Davis wouldn't wake up. And it worked! Although I did hear some chatter, which we addressed, Davis never stirred.
So fingers crossed that this continues. I am sure we will have some rough days ahead, but in the end, both Trey and I have the philosophy that the boys have to work it out between themselves. They will be sharing a room for a very long time, and given the resilience that children so often possess, I am fairly confident that they will learn to negotiate the new arrangement.
The rest of the photos have been added to the Summer 2007 album.
A ship leaving the Aberdeen Harbor. You can also see the lighthouse.
Ships waiting off shore to enter the harbor.
Promenade along the beach. You can see the ferris wheel in the distance, an object Addison takes great delight in pointing out every time we walk along the beach.