Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas at King's

Yesterday afternoon the University switched on the Christmas tree lights up at King's College. With Addison sick (it has now been confirmed as a bad cold accompanied by ear infection), I just took Davis up. We got there right at 4:30, the time the website had advertised the event began, but apparently it started half an hour earlier. Nae bother. I have it on good authority we didn't miss much. Evidently at the critical moment, "3...2...1..," the lights failed to illuminate. Hilariously appropriate. They resolved their technical difficulties and by the time Davis and I arrived the queue to sit on Father Christmas's lap was many buggies long. The good news, however, was that mulled wine still abounded, and I helped myself to one steaming paper cup full. Yes, that's right. Here when the children visit Santa, the parents stand around drinking alcohol. I like the UK way.


Cable Knitting

Behold, my first foray into cable knitting. This is an Irish Hiking Scarf pattern available online that a friend sent to me, a great first cable knitting project. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out despite the fact that I finished it 12" shorter than it was supposed to be, but after awhile you can only repeat the same 8 rows without serious concern for your own sanity. Believe it or not, this scarf is for yours truly. Right now I'm working on a cable knit sweater for Addison. Little did I know how starved I was for a new project. In five days' time I've already completed the entire back of the sweater. Pictures to follow maybe even with the wee lad modeling it if I can get him to cooperate.


A close-up of the cables and the wool.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Attack of the Christmas Monster

I receive endless ribbing from my family about my Christmas obsession, and I am fully aware that by putting this blog out there, I am inviting more. I unabashedly admit that I would listen to Christmas music all year round if it were socially acceptable, and just between you and me, I've been listening to it this year since the week of Halloween. It's ironic that I should have such a festive gene proceeding from lineage which pretends they'd like to skip the holiday altogether. I say "pretend" because I don't really believe them. I think it's a little put on for iconoclastic purposes. That aside, the Christmas Monster (aka me) visited our living room yesterday to kick-off the two week countdown to our departure. While I'm not getting a tree for our house this year since it would be nothing more than a brittle toothpick by the time we returned, I couldn't help but put up the rest of our decorations from last year's tree. Who says you need an evergreen to utilize your Christmas baubles and white lights? I may still try to find a small artificial tree at a charity shop to put in our bay window, but in the meantime the holiday spirit is alive and kicking at the Holloway house.

On a less cheerful note, illness has also attacked our home once again. Last night was probably the worst night I've ever had with Addison. He was up more times than an infant with a wracking, chesty cough. He rarely gets coughs, usually just high fevers, so this has certainly freaked me out. I'm not used to the choking, gasping noises elicited by a nasty cough. In the end, I moved into his room for the night and we snuggled in bed together, which seemed to settle him enough so that we both could catch some winks. I have to say though, he is one heck of a kicker. The kid sleeps like he's running a marathon. Please pray that Davis and Trey do not catch this. I can feel that I'm fighting it off, all that nasty sinus pressure, throat scratchiness and ticklishness. Hopefully, we can manage to get well in the next two weeks and fly home healthy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Can't Go Back

While Lisa was here, we hired a car for the weekend. Enterprise often upgrades us from the usual VW Passat to a small Mercedes, such as a Kompressor, but this time they gave us the royal treatment. They upgraded us two levels to an E-Class Mercedes in a beautiful indium gray metallic with leather interior. The car was just a baby, only 2 months old. Words do not begin to describe how lovely it was to cruise around town in such a luxury vehicle, and although I remained fairly oblivious to it, Lisa informed me that I got more than a few odd looks from other people as I would get in and out of the car. Apparently, no one expects a 26 year-old female who still gets carded for buying a pair of scissors in the knitting department of John Lewis to be driving such a machine. "Rich oil brat" no doubt flickered through their minds. Ah well, they're just jealous! The problem now is that I'm ruined. I don't think I can drive any other car from here on out. Once you've had filet mignon, you just don't feel the same way about a hot dog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Lights on Union

When I go for a few days without blogging, it feels like there is so much to catch up on. I begin to feel disconnected from all of you. I am going to try my very hardest to blog faithfully over the next couple of weeks although things are starting to get even busier as we prepare for the big return.

Let me back up to a week ago Sunday when we took the boys to Union Street for the Christmas lights switch on, a big Aberdeen family affair that also seemed to be a glow-in-the-dark light saber convention. Some brilliant guy got the idea to sell the fluorescent weaponry out of a cardboard box on the side of the road and must have made a killing.

Here is our little party setting out around 4:30. Addison requested to wear his Halloween fireman coat and hat. Can someone please explain the way a toddler's mind works?

Davis bundled up against the cold.

Mama and the boys waiting for the parade to start along Union Street. It was supposed to begin at 5, but we waited for another 40 minutes until the parade made it to us. As Santa, or Father Christmas as I prefer, passed underneath each set of lights, they were switched on accompanied by a shower of confetti.

The lights before switch on.

And a little video of the show. It wouldn't be complete without bagpipers.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Danger Is My Middle Name

I said I was going to take a Thanksgiving Break, but you know me. My blogging addiction is too far gone to hold out that long. True to form Addison came up with something yesterday that I knew if I don't put it on here I'd forget about it in just a few days and another priceless childhood moment which deserves commemoration would have been lost in the morass of daily life.

Yesterday while Lisa and I were having a late breakfast Addison rigged one of his step stools to facilitate better viewing out the back door window panes. He took his Thomas the Train ride-on toy and stood on it to look outside. After a word of warning from us about how he might fall off so he needed to be careful, he turned around and with a completely straight face said, "I dangerous."

Who said a two-year old can't be macho?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Break

Our dear friend Lisa has come for a week to visit and celebrate Thanksgiving with us hence the blog silence over the last few days. I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so today will be busy with preparation. I promise to be back next week though with the usual stories and pictures. Stay tuned for video and photos from this past Sunday when Trey and I took the boys in town for the lighting of the Christmas decorations that hang across Union Street with accompanying parade.

From Aberdeen, Scotland we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Identical Phobias

Since the day Davis came into this world, I have been amazed at the differences between the two boys. I don't know why I thought they would be just alike, but in my mind I expected nothing less than an Addison clone. However, the differences occur at every level. From their physical appearance, tiny Davis and solid Addison, to their choice of soother, thumb versus pacifier, to their food aversions, Addison wouldn't touch anything green but Davis eats whatever, I am confronted with the fact that my boys are individuals with distinctive personalities.

I've grown so accustomed to drawing contrasts, that I'm now taken by surprise when I find similarity. The greatest likeness between them is sleeping. They have both been wonderful sleepers since the time they were very little. Second to that is what I discovered yesterday. They have matching vacuum cleaner phobias. Addison's fear is well documented and only now improving. Davis's, though, seems to be in its infancy, pun intended. Last night after hoovering the bedrooms, I left said implement in our bedroom while I got Davis for a last feed before bed. As I settled with him on our bed, he started eyeing the vacuum tentatively out of the corner of his eye, pulled off, and then the chin started to quiver. I thought, "Surely a 9 month old isn't afraid of a stationary, silent vacuum cleaner." Oh how wrong I was. I re-latched Davis but he repeated the scene, this time actually crying. I got up and removed the offending object.

Good grief! The insanity has re-begun.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ice Man

This is a long overdue post. I was filling ice cube trays yesterday and started chuckling to myself, knowing I had to share the ice saga with you. As you know, my Ice Man Trey can't drink any beverage unless it's cold, cold, cold. A few cubes will not do. Like this picture, the ice must overflow the boundaries of the glass. Alas, to his great dismay, the UK is the land of no ice. Go to a restaurant and order a Coke. You'll be lucky to get three sad little chips floating in your cola. Back home we were prepared with stacks of ice cube trays that were filled regularly to keep our stash plentiful. When we would go out to a restaurant, Trey would often order an additional glass just with ice cubes in it. Here when he makes such a request, they look at him as though he's just asked for pepper to be added to his drink. What? Ice to cool a drink? How bizarre. I hazard to guess that the most difficult part of our transition to life in Scotland for Trey was this issue. He has become more flexible about it, even occasionally drinking something that has *gasp* no ice in it. Hey, a man's got to stay hydrated somehow.

And this leads me to our current ice cube tray situation. Our freezer, which by UK standards is enormous, came with two puny little trays for producing ice the size of a Starburst. They were originally mounted in the freezer in such a way that with a nifty turn of the wrist the ice would pop out, but sadly they quickly broke off their moorings probably from over use and now are used in the good ol' fashioned way. In the meantime, it became clear very quickly that these two little trays just wouldn't cut it, so we got some more, and then some more. Back in the summer sometime I ordered more trays from Asda and the regular-sized ones I was expecting were substituted, due to lack of availability, with trays that produced tiny, bullet-sized ice. At first, I thought Trey was going to be dissatisfied with this substitution, but to my delight, he was thrilled that now he could more tightly and compactly jam ice into his glass. Since then, one of those trays has snapped in two, so we are on the lookout for a replacement since it was a one-off substitution and not something that I can order. It truly is the simple things that matter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Separation Anxiety

As I type this Addison is shrieking in his crib. He woke up from his nap just as Trey was about to run an errand. Somehow he heard the door close and knew that Trey was the one who had left. I went upstairs to get Addison not realizing that he was crying because Trey left and not because he just wanted to come downstairs. I calmly told him that Daddy had left but would be back soon. He started pitching an even more violent fit at that, so I turned right back around and left him there. I'm at my wit's end with his selective separation anxiety. It primarily centers around Trey leaving him, not me, and if he is occupied with a fun activity when Trey leaves the house, he doesn't seem to mind as much. When he does choose to throw a fit, nothing seems to work except letting him cry it out for awhile. I have tried comforting him, reasoning and explaining, ignoring him, and disciplining him. My efforts have been fruitless. I'm fairly certain his behavior is not the instinctive fear of younger babies when they are separated from their parents, but manipulation and manufactured drama. From now on, I am going to isolate him, such as put him in his crib, and ignore him when he throws these fits. At least that way it's not inflicted on me. Any pearls of wisdom?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Chiropractor

Yesterday morning I went to the chiropractor for the first time ever. Since around the beginning of the year when I was as wide as I am tall, an optical illusion of sorts, I began holding myself bizarrely to compensate for my massive girth. After Davis was born, I began to experience tingling and numbness in my right thoracic area which radiated up to the base of my neck and down to the middle of my back. Increasingly I'd had enough of the discomfort. I wouldn't call it pain. It's more like when your leg falls asleep, a complete nuisance. A friend recommended a chiropractor at the south end of Aberdeen with easy access by my primary bus route, so I called. They were able to get me right in and yesterday I went for the my first appointment. Let me tell you that all the trepidation I'd ever had about going to a chiropractor was completely unfounded. The physician I met with was excellent. She took a history, did a physical exam, and confirmed that I was extremely tight and gnarled on my right side. In her opinion the problem is probably a cumulation of factors one of which was pregnancy, but she said the issues could have started with improper posture sitting at a computer 8 hours a day back in my working woman days. She said breastfeeding also aggravates neck, back, and shoulder problems again due to improper posture and leaning towards the baby while feeding. She then talked me through the manipulations and adjustments she was going to do. This is what I had always been afraid of, the famed crackings and poppings that I'd heard cause people more pain and terror than a dentist. Not so! When she adjusted my neck by somehow applying pressure as I turned my head to one side and then the other, it popped very loudly on the bad side and hardly at all on the other side. There was a a second of momentary pressure and then release. Through it all she had me breathe deeply and then exhale, like a labor technique. I found it very relaxing and helpful. She adjusted my back as well and then did a glorious soft tissue massage to help loosen the muscles. I left feeling amazing. I didn't have any tingling at all the entire bus ride home and well into the afternoon. Sadly, it did return later in the day, but this was to be expected. She said that because I have chronic discomfort which has persisted for nearly a year, it may take a series of adjustments and manipulations to correct the problem. I have a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Our Renaissance Man

Nearly a year ago to the day I told you about some photographs Trey submitted to the University for use on their website. Today I was checking said site and news of the University's latest world ranking caught my attention. When I pulled up the article, not only was I delighted to discover that Aberdeen is now ranked 137th among universities in the entire world, up 188 places in just two years' time, but the photo used on the page is this one from Trey's collection. See, he's not just a pretty face. He's a teacher, historian, scholar, and now a published photographer, a veritable Renaissance man...except they didn't have photography during the Renaissance.

A Night of Music

Last night Trey and I enjoyed an evening of music at Mitchell Hall, the site, you may remember, of the Great Window. This marvelous place, besides being the primary location for nail-biting examinations, serves as a venue for many university concerts throughout the year. Last night we heard the world premiere of a piece entitled Dreaming of Easter, a very contemporary work, which as the composer himself described in the program specifically contained "two chords, which seem to signify a kind of 'question mark'". I think he may have understated it a bit. I humbly submit that the entire work was peppered with question marks. That aside, the piece was of short duration, and our palettes were cleansed with some refreshing Haydn, his Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major. The soloist was excellent. After the "interval", we heard Missa in Angustiis, also known as Haydn's "Nelson Mass", a beautiful choral work full of pathos, majesty, and ultimately triumph, entirely appropriate for Remembrance Sunday. In honor of this UK "Memorial Day", all the musicians, choir members, and soloists wore red poppies. It was so refreshing for us to get out together and enjoy a classical concert, something we haven't done in nearly a year, and to be able to enjoy such beautiful music in a glorious, ancient building like Mitchell Hall was the cherry on the sundae.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Worse Than Fingernails on a Chalkboard

Can you think of a sound more spine-tingling or blood-curdling? I can! Grinding your teeth, an activity Davis does with great relish since his top chopper has popped through. I would've thought you needed a few more teeth, but evidently, you only need two opposing ones to elicit this appalling noise. I think he's just testing them out right now, and, as you would expect from baby teeth, they're razor sharp and ready to grind. His fourth tooth is just hours away from cutting through. I can only imagine the grating, grinding volume he'll generate then.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Price of Petrol

A couple of days ago I ran to Tesco for a few grocery items and was stunned to see that the price of petrol had risen to 98p a litre. I had heard rumours about it flirting with the £1 mark, but I was shocked to see it in big numbers on a billboard just around the corner from me. I vaguely remember it being around 89p when we arrived last year. Unlike back home, the price of fuel tends to remain fairly fixed due to its high taxation, but back in October the fuel duty was increased by 2p a litre with additional increases set for the next year and a half. This increase was, of course, passed onto consumers driving up the price at the pump. With the price of petrol at new highs here coupled with the dollar at a 26-year low, I did the conversion from pounds and litres to dollars and gallons just so you could get an idea of what it would cost to fill your car here. Are you ready?

The price of petrol is $7.75 per gallon!

If we had our Ford Escape here (I dream about this, by the way), it would cost about $124 to fill it. Gulp. Think about that the next time you are tempted to complain about the price of gas.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The First Snow

video

I had a sneaking suspicion that this would be a cold and snowy winter, but little did I know that the white stuff would make its first appearance on November 8th. It didn't last very long -- just a snow squall, but it made me very hopeful for what the winter may bring. Here I can really enjoy the snow because I don't have anywhere to go in it. I even have my groceries delivered. I long to take Addison out in the back garden and make his very first snowman, and at this rate, that may happen in the near future.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Diculous and Sponsible

The blog can't go too long without an Addison anecdote about his budding vocabulary. His favorite word these days is "diculous", as in ridiculous. He must hear us say it frequently because I'm not sure where else he would pick it up unless it might be Charlie Brown's fault. Who knew that Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! had so much negativity in it. "You blockhead." "I oughta pound you." These phrases have unwittingly come out of my son's mouth. Oi! Regardless, there is almost nothing funnier than overhearing your toddler say something is "so diculous". Next runner-up is "sponsible". Yes, you guessed it, his version of responsible. He doesn't really understand what these words mean, so hearing him use them "correctly" even if unknowingly is comical. I've literally heard him say, "Mommy, I not sponsible." Yeah, no kidding.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pittodrie Stadium

Just a few blocks from our house stands Pittodrie Stadium (pronounced pi-TOH-dree), the home of the Aberdeen Football Club (as in soccer). Like everything else in this city, even the sports stadium is old, hosting games since 1899. With a seating capacity of more than 22,000 it is ranked among the very largest football venues in all of Scotland. Pittodrie derives from a Pictish word for dung heap, the apparent purpose of the site prior to clearing and building the current edifice. How charming! The stadium overlooks the North Sea earning it the reputation as one of the windiest and coldest sports arenas in the UK. I have no doubt it would give even Candlestick Park a run for its money, and depending on which way the wind is blowing, we can hear the roar of the crowd sometimes through our closed windows. The fans are known as the Red Army, and you can always tell when a game is about to be played because hoards of people file along the street like ants marching to the stadium proudly sporting their red scarves, the trademark of the AFC fan, and singing in hopeful anticipation of a victory. Ticket prices are high, but I hope that before we leave here, Trey and I will have an opportunity to go to a game.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Perfect Evening

Last night was one of those nights you wish you could freeze forever in time. The air was nippy with a pre-winter chill and fragrant with the smell of burning fireplaces. The leaves were intense with color and falling so fast you can almost see the look of autumn change before your eyes. Trey and I took the boys for a walk up to Seaton Park, and although we set out in daylight, it quickly evaporated, as it does this time of year, into twilight, then sunset, and finally darkness. It was one of those perfect evenings where everything seems right with the world. We sang on the walk back and enjoyed the simple act of being together in such a beautiful place. Here are some of the pictures we took along the way.

King's College Chapel.

Sunset over Seaton Park.

The southwestern sky with the twin towers of St. Machar Cathedral peaking above the treeline.

Addison playing on his beloved train at the playground.

Davis trying out the swings for the very first time. He did magnificent!

Daddy and D with St. Machar barely visible in the background.

Mama and D.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

International Fair

Aberdeen hosts an International Fair three times a year, and this past weekend was the autumn one. You can get anything from Chinese silk scarves to French wine and Dutch cheese. Best of all though are the German brats cooked on an open fire. The smell is completely intoxicating. Saturday we ventured into town to get said brats and enjoy the sights and smells that accompany the fair. Here are some of the pictures from our outing the rest of which are in the Autumn 2007 album.

Trey pushing the double buggy amidst the falling leaves.

Happy D.

Addison got a new bear who has been appropriately and Scottishly named Duncan.

Union Terrace Gardens adjacent to the Fair.

One of two brat stands. I couldn't resist posting this photo because of the couple in the foreground. They are so quintessentially Scottish.

The many tents and stalls that comprise the Fair.

One tired child who literally just fell forward with exhaustion on the way home.

Davis wide awake for the time being although he too fell asleep on the ride home.

Not sure what these stickers signified but they were all over town, including some that had been stuck on people's side view mirrors. Probably has something to do with football if I had to guess.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Rare Outing

This morning Trey and I were treated by a friend to a rare morning out. She came and watched the boys while we went into town, did a little early Christmas shopping, and enjoyed a bite to eat at a cafe. It hadn't dawned on me how strange it would feel until we were on our way and I kept looking for a buggy or waiting for a child to cry. We are embroiled in that time of life when our children are very physically dependent on us, so much so that I've almost forgotten what life was like before the cheerful chaos of children. Granted Trey and I do get out from time to time for special occasions, usually at night for a dinner, but to go out in daylight without children and enjoy peaceful, uninterrupted shopping and conversation was truly a gem.

But what delighted me even more was that after just a few short hours the boys were thrilled to see us, and we were too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Year's Difference

Those of you with a very keen memory may recall me posting this picture last November of Addison and his friend Hannah. Yesterday, just a few days shy of one year ago, here are the same two sweeties. I just can't get over how much they've grown. People say, "Where does the time go?" but I want to know, "Where do our babies go?"

The Man Cold

My dear friend Marieke sent this to me the other day. While some may protest its accuracy, I contend that is what makes it so funny. You be the judge.

Number Three

I just discovered that Davis's top right front tooth popped through either yesterday or today, but I wouldn't have known because he was as sweet as ever.