Sunday, September 30, 2007

14 Years in the Making

I was 12 when the Phillies won their last NL East title, but it is etched into my memory forever. I was listening on the radio. They were playing Pittsburgh. Tonight was a little different. I was sitting in my jammies in bed watching the live scoreboard pitch by pitch on my laptop talking to my brother Nathaniel over the phone about it, and believe it or not, I informed him who won just seconds after it happened. That's right. Becky who lives in Scotland told Nathaniel who lives in Philadelphia that our team had won. Isn't technology great? Boy, we've been through a lot with the Fightin's. They break our hearts every year, and it would just figure that one of the years I'm out of the country they finally get their act together and win the thing. But as they say hear, nay bother. I am delighted to discover that for a mere $24.99 I can purchase the post-season MLB international package which will enable me to watch ALL the baseball games for all the teams right through the World Series, and since it's unlikely that I'll have the staying power to watch a game that starts at 7pm EST, they are all archived for my later viewing pleasure. Like I said, technology is wonderful!

So here's to you, Philadelphia! Cheers!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Sick House

I alluded in my blog yesterday that I was coming down with the cold that Addison had. Well, yesterday it took on a life of it's own, not just sneezing and head congestion, but a deep, manly voice and a fever. Last night as I was getting ready to go to bed I could feel my temperature climbing, and as it rose I got more wobbly and delirious. My cheeks became bright red and my eyes glazed over. It was either the Ibuprofen, my own immune system, or a glorious hot toddy before bed that finally broke the fever in the night. This morning I feel much better although I don't sound better. Addison is one day ahead of me in recovery. With him I just have to watch where he deposits the presents his nose leaves behind. I am left to pray that the other two don't get this, especially Davis with still nursing. Head congestion and nursing don't exactly go together.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thursday Night Shopping

This is such a fascinating phenomenon, one of a bygone era in the US. Thursday night is the one night of the week when the shops in town remain open "late". Don't laugh, but in general, late means 8pm although one of the major department stores, Marks & Spencer, is open until -- gasp -- 8:30. I had been planning to do a little shopping unencumbered by wee chaps last night, so despite my own looming head cold I headed out once I got Davis down for the night. Unlike most evenings at that time, the streets were packed with shoppers, and most interesting of all, the buses after 8pm were jammed with people and bags. You would've thought it was rush hour. I remember when I first came here and found out to my great dismay that everything closed around 5. Back home I was always a fan of late night shopping, especially since the arrival of children, but now as a true sign that my perspective has changed, it felt absolutely luxurious and slightly decadent to be able to shop until 8.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Face Lift: Day 4

The painters were back for about a half an hour this morning finishing up. They had to apply some spackle yesterday that wasn't dry enough in time to paint it then. So today they finished the job, all except for a patch behind the radiator in the hallway that they didn't even bother with and I didn't discover until they were gone. That aside, it looks wonderful -- so airy and bright. It makes the house seem bigger. Sadly, the camera's batteries died yesterday, so I can't post pictures just yet, but I promise to post them before the week's out.

Short Arms, Deep Pockets

I came across these Aberdeen jokes today on the site aboutaberdeen.com. There seems to be a common a theme, wouldn't you say? It's like a friend of ours back in the States said, "How do you take a census in Glasgow? Roll a penny downhill!"

There's an afa (awful) rumour that copper wire was invented by two Aberdonians fighting over a penny!

An Aberdonian is out for a drive in his shiny new red Mini Cooper. As he drives through Royal Deeside he marvels at the luscious greenery of the trees and grass. He pulls up to get a bit of fresh air and a break from driving. It is only then that he sees a destitute man with his wife down on all fours munching on the grass. "Why are you eating grass" he asks the tramp. "I haven’t been able to find any work for months and this is all I can give my wife to eat." "Ah I see, tell you what, you and your wife get into the car and I’ll get you some extra food." The man and his wife are overjoyed and jump into the back seats. "Oh this is so kind of you, dear sir" says the wife as they drive through Garthdee" "Och, think nothing of it wifie - I haven’t been able to get my grass cut in weeks!"

The first people in Scotland to get double glazing (double paned windows that provide excellent insulation in the cold northeast) were Aberdonians so that the bairns' (children) couldnae hear the ice cream vans!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Face Lift: Day 3

Sickness has invaded our home. Everyone has been very healthy since the last bout with illness around the time of Davis's birth, but I guess it's to be expected with the colder weather arriving. This may actually be a blessing in disguise because when Addison is sick he's less energetic, more lethargic, and willing to lay around, a status conducive to our current self-imprisonment. All of the rooms are empty, but the spine of the house -- the hallway and stairwell -- to which everything is connected is sticky with paint and crowded with painters. We pretty much have to pick a room and stay there. Yesterday, one of the painters woke Davis up from his afternoon nap when he started to paint our bedroom door. I was NOT happy, especially since the night before Davis had cut his 2nd bottom tooth awaking in the night crying in pain. He desperately needed that nap, so today we asked them to start upstairs so that they would be finished there by the time the boys took their afternoon naps. We will all be relieved when this comes to an end.

I've been going back through the pictures we took last year of our home and I'm really eager to do updates although the true final updates won't happen until the carpet is laid. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Holloways

I realize The Simpsons Movie has been out for awhile now, so this comes a little late in the game. But better late than never, as they say. Plus, you have to admit the likeness of Trey is bang on.

TREY


ADDISON


BECKY


They didn't have options for babies. Plus, there's just no way to duplicate Davis's sweetness.

It Never Gets Old

Last Wednesday we went to Dunnottar Castle with Grandma Nina. As many times as we've been, I never tire of seeing it, and this time we had one of the most exquisite days you can imagine -- warm temperatures, brilliant sun, no wind. I've added all the photos to the Dunnottar Castle album, but here's a little preview.






Face Lift: Day 2

Well, we survived Day 1. The walls are bare and now the workers are starting on the trim. I discovered to my great surprise that they will be here Wednesday as well when they actually paint the walls. I asked the head painter what color was going up. He apparently doesn't speak English, only Aberdonian, and the answer was, "Duna ken," (translation: I don't know). Hmmmm...not a promising reply. But he did inform me that when the owners do not supply the paint, then he puts up Magnolia, which is fine with me. A nice creamy white will brighten the hallway and stairs. I said, "OK, well thanks," and he returned, " Nay bother," (translation: No problem).

I've been really struck by the way having workmen in your home can make you feel like a stranger there. Thankfully, today seems to be a nicer day than yesterday, so I should be able to get Addison outside with his cycle and sandbox. We can certainly manage for another couple of days, and I can't wait to post the before and after photos.

Monday, September 24, 2007

When the Chips Are Down...

...I would definitely want Mike Gundy in my corner! This impassioned speech over the weekend by the head coach of the Oklahoma State football team is enough to shame the hardest heart and bring a tear to every mother's eye.

Face Lift

Today begins our house's mini face lift. We are having the wallpaper in the hallway and stairwell removed and then the walls will be painted. After that's finished, we will have new carpet installed there as well as the living room. We are very excited about these upgrades most especially since the carpet in the living has seen some serious action in the last 7 months and crawling is in Davis's sooner rather than later future.

These renovations make life in an already small dwelling interesting to say the least. Addison and I have holed up in our bedroom with DVDs and toys (the internet for me) since it's raining. The painters are only supposed to be here today and tomorrow, so we'll manage because the final result is definitely worth the minor inconvenience.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Professor Holloway, I Presume

Well, not technically Professor Holloway because at Aberdeen you're only called Professor if you hold the chair in a department, so I am using it in the looser, American sense of the word, but regardless, I am so proud of Trey for landing a Teaching Fellowship in Church History at the University for this academic year. During the fall he will be teaching 2 Scottish Reformation courses -- one to undergrads and the other to postgrads. In the spring he will be teaching a course on Medieval Church History. His first class is Monday morning. Yikes! The word came in very late in the game, as in he just found out definitively this Thursday. He's trying to cope as best he can with pulling all the materials together for the first class and grappling with the administrative expectations and differences between the American and UK systems. For example, grading here is done on a scale of 1-20 not A, B, C like we're all used to. However, as is true with most things here, they have a way of all falling into place in the end, a sort of pessimistic optimism, if you will. We both are humbled by the tremendous opportunity in this smiling providence, a gift above and beyond what we ever expected to get out of our experience here. It will undoubtedly keep Trey very busy, but I have a feeling it will also keep him focused, and I foresee a productive and very profitable autumn ahead.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

MIA

My mother-in-law is in town right now, so blogs may be a little slow in coming. We're planning to go to St. Andrews on Saturday and hopefully will have some wonderful pictures to share. In the meantime know that we are well and will be back soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tooth Sighting

Davis cut his very first tooth today! It's been peeking just below the gumline for days but finally made an appearance this afternoon, or at least I noticed it standing in line to pay for some items at Primark. I have to commend him on being a pretty good teether. Despite some fussiness, he's been a real champ and has definitely put his big brother to shame.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Matching Jumpers


I never thought I would, but now I've gone and done it. However, I'm blaming it completely on Trey. A few weeks back we bought the boys a couple of matching outfits presumably for getting their professional picture taken this fall, but probably in reality because they look so darn cute dressed alike. We do, however, draw the line at the whole family dressing the same.

Yesterday at church they were wearing the same sweater and several people commented, "Oh look. They're wearing matching jumpers." Every time I hear a Scot call a sweater a jumper I laugh. It just sounds so funny. Anther one to add to the ever-growing list of vocabulary differences.

Another one I found out recently...they don't call it fall. It is strictly autumn. Fall is apparently an Americanism. Who knew?

After the Rain

Yesterday was one of those days where it rained hard, harder, hardest all day long. But when it was finished the sunshine came out just before sunset, and we had a few glorious rays to bask in. In fact, we got to experience that bizarre, and yet not too infrequent, phenomenon here known down south as "the devil beating his wife". The sun was shining while raindrops were still falling, glistening like flecks of liquid gold. Trey and I snapped a few photos and video of our front garden and Addison playing blissfully in the requisite puddles.


video







Saturday, September 15, 2007

Playgroup

Yesterday I took Davis to his first playgroup just the two of us. A friend of mine hosted a lovely luncheon for several ladies in the church most of whom had children around Davis's age. I piled Davis in the front of our double buggy, a quiche, the Bumbo, and the diaper bag in the back and off we went with the rain cover protecting my "wee bairn" against the intermittent rain on a blustery pre-autumn day. We had a really nice time. Davis thoroughly enjoyed himself and all the new toys at his buddy Ethan's house. He, of course, loved all the attention from the women (yes, we only rear ladies' men in this house), and perfectly smiled on cue when the camera came out. It was an activity-filled afternoon, and Davis promptly fell asleep on the way home tuckered out from so much excitement.



Friday, September 14, 2007

More Braemar Gathering Videos

Trey, our resident photographer and now videographer, did a fabulous job capturing all the different aspects of the Highland games in Braemar. Besides the videos of the Queen driving by and the caber toss, we have many more to share. I wasn't quite sure how to categorize them, so I thought I would just put them all in one post with a brief explanation for each.

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Bagpiping band.

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Stadium, Highlands, and Scottish flags.

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More piping in formation. Scottish marching bands, if you will.

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A piping band from Ballatar.

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Another view of the stadium, its pageantry and the sunshine which kept peeking in and out all day.

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A panoramic view of the stadium and surrounding Highlands. The green house around the track is the Royal Box from which the Queen watches the games.

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Directly behind the spot where we watched the games was the solo piping judging. Interestingly, the piper's footwork was all part of the performance.

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The Queen exits her vehicle and enters the Royal Box with Prince Philip followed by the singing of God Save the Queen.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tossing the Caber

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By far the most impressive game showcased at the Braemar Gathering was the caber toss. We had never seen anything like it. Imagine a huge log called a caber roughly the length and girth of a standard telephone pole balanced on its end by one man, a burly Highland man in a kilt and a tight-fitting single malt Scotch t-shirt. This man proceeds to run with the caber perfectly balanced in his hands and then fling it with the object of propelling the bottom end over the top. This video captures a successful attempt beautifully, and even better you can hear the announcer remarking in the background, "This Highland air up here must be doing them well."

Tossing the caber involves the following 4 steps, which you can see demonstrated in the video.

- The PICK where the competitor lifts the caber off the group
- The APPROACH where the athlete gets momentum going by running forward
- The PLANT when both feet take root to provide a good throwing platform
- The TOSS where the caber is actually flipped end over end (or at least attempted)

I could have watched these guys toss the caber all day long. It was truly primitive and yet completely amazing.

Scotland Beats France 1-0

Congratulations to our Scottish footballing brothers on their stunning victory over France 1-0 yesterday in the Euro 2008 qualifying match. They now stand atop the Group B heap with 21 points. As the BBC so aptly put it, the Tartan Army is "Tartan Barmy" after the historic win.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Do They Get Any Cuter?

I took a bunch of photos of Davis on Sunday while he was watching our front-loading washing machine whirl around. He is absolutely mesmerized by it and sat there like such a big boy. The pictures are priceless, and this one is my favorite. Just when I think he can't get cuter, he does.

Braemar Gathering Photos

I have just added all the Braemar Gathering photos. Tomorrow I will do a posting explaining more about the games, but in the meantime I thought you might enjoy the interesting festivities and gorgeous scenery.

The Queen

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At long last here is the promised video of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip leaving the Braemar Gathering. They arrived around 3pm to much fanfare and a singing of God Save the Queen accompanied by bagpipes. I missed the entrance because I was back at the car feeding the baby, but I could still hear the strains of the National Anthem even a mile and a half away. The Queen was wearing a grass green suit with the inevitable matching hat. She stayed for an hour, and then, as is her custom, left at 4pm. A woman in the crowd clued us in to this fact, so we made sure to line up along the drive ahead of time in order to get a good view. The Queen is a little hard to see in the video because there is a lot of glare on the car's glass, but as the car passes you can very distinctly see her hat. She is on the other side of the car. Prince Philip is closest to the camera, wiping his nose on a hanky. It was a thrilling moment. I never would have thought that I would get to see the Queen of Great Britain in person, another thing to check off my list of things to do before I die. We were all waving like a bunch of Beatles-crazed fans. It was fabulous!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Tricycle

While my mom was here she purchased a tricycle for Addison. They didn't have it in stock at the John Lewis in Aberdeen, so they ordered it from a nearby location and had it shipped to our house. It arrived yesterday, an apt parting gift. As I signed for the package at the door, Addison's eyes lit up and his face beamed. "Is that forrrr youuuuu?" the Parcel Force employee asked.

As is the case with all such 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles, assembly required a degree in astro-physics, but in the end the Rough Rider tricycle was ready to be ridden (every time I say Rough Rider I think of Ralphie from A Christmas Story). It is like an Addison magnet. His feet just barely reach the peddles, and he's not quite sure what it's for, but he knows that he loves it (he told me so) and it's all he can think about. He calls it his "cycle" and first thing this morning he bounded into the living room and a look of dismay crossed his face as he realized it was nowhere to be found (when not in use the trike lives in the basement to save us some living space). I promised him that after breakfast and getting dressed he could go outside and ride it. In the meantime he probably asked me 62,000 times if we could go out. Needless to say, it is a huge hit!

There are quite a few new photos added to Addison's album that show him enjoying his new cycle. Most hilarious of all though, there are also quite a few of him enjoying the box!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back to Blogging

It feels good to sit back down at the computer and let the words flow. So much has happened this past week. I still need to post the many pictures and video from our trip to Braemar, tell you about the amazing trek out to Dunnottar Castle, and recap the whole wonderful visit. I can't do it right now because all of the videos and pictures are on my computer which is currently in use. Trey is cutting Addison's hair while he watches a video on mine. So in the meantime it's just you, me, and words.

My mom left in the wee hours of the morning. As is always the case, the journey to Aberdeen and then home again involves many steps. She was taking a cab from our house to the bus station, catching the bus to Edinburgh at 6:35am, walking from the bus station in Edinburgh to the shuttle that goes to the Edinburgh airport, flying out of Edinburgh at 12:40pm, arriving in Newark late-afternoon east coast time, and then getting a ride from my dad back to Haddon Heights. Whew! It tires me out just writing about it. We will miss her so much. The first thing Addison asked me this morning when I got him out of his crib was, "Where's Nana?" It breaks my heart every time.

In the meantime, let me give a couple of other updates. Fall is here! I can't believe it. It's arrived much sooner than last year. I didn't notice the first colorful foliage changes until well into October, but trees are changing everywhere already in early September. This morning as my mom departed into the waiting cab and Trey, Davis, and I waved goodbye from our doorstep, the air was chilly and brisk. Chilly and brisk, you scoff! Yes, there is something different about an autumn breeze, an almost indescribable change even for the cool northeast of Scotland. It's as though the wind changes somehow. There is an urgency and expectation. It even smells different. I am excited for fall. Things are starting to come alive again. Students are arriving. The campus is busy once more. My calendar is booking up. I love the fall. It reminds me of apple cider and hay rides (not that I've taken one in a long time). Plus, it means that Christmas is just around the corner.

The other bit of news is that we have changed internet providers. Yes, that's right. We are now customers of TalkTalk. The transition hasn't been entirely smooth. I tried to install our wireless router on Friday without success. It appeared I was going to have to call in the Geek Squad for £25, a sticker price that made me completely balk especially since I've set up a wireless router with no help and no problem before. However, after letting it sit over night, thinking it over, uninstalling our anti-virus and other BT software, and trying once more, lo and behold, it worked! Now, the new problem. We are having major problems viewing streaming video from the internet, like the NBC nightly news or the Tenth worship service. It keeps freezing up. I've called TalkTalk and we are in the process of rectifying the situation. I am hopeful but not holding my breath. The thought of going back to BT nearly sends me into convulsions. I will do almost anything to stay with TalkTalk, not just because we'll save $700 a year on our combined phone and internet bill but largely because of the complete lack of customer service. And at the very least I am delighted to report that I only sat on hold for a few minutes waiting for tech support through TalkTalk.

Anyway, it's good to be back!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Whetting Your Appetite

It's only been a few days, but I feel like I've totally neglected all of you. Rest assured we are still among the living -- just very busy enjoying the precious few days we have with my mom.

Here, however, is a little tidbit to keep you checking back. On Saturday while at the Braemar Gathering we saw the Queen. Yes, that's right -- THE Queen of Great Britain. We got within a few feet of her motorcade and Trey captured it on video. I just haven't had time yet to upload the video, but I promise to do it soon along with all sorts of other pictures and footage from the Highland games. They were phenomenal and definitely blog-worthy.

Until then, God save the Queen!