Thursday, September 25, 2008

Only in Texas

Photo courtesy of fruit_on_the_vines at flickr.

I talked with Trey this morning and no long-distance conversation would be complete without a culinary rundown. I was thoroughly delighted to learn that yesterday for breakfast, among sundry other fare, he ate a waffle in the shape of the great state of Texas. "You're kidding," I said incredulously. No, he was completely serious. This I had to see for myself, and, sure enough, a simple Google search brought me to the Texas waffle iron.

Oddly enough though, no sign of the New Jersey waffle iron.

White Papa

Addison calls my parents Nana and Papa. I have always called my grandfather Pop-pop. To wee ears I can understand why Papa and Pop-pop sound virtually identical. So shortly after we arrived Addison came up with his own ingenious distinction, White Papa. Out of the blue one day he asked my mom where White Papa was. She looked at him in confusion for a minute and then realized who he meant. Now we all call Pop-pop White Papa. This photo of White Papa, my mom, me, and Addison was taken when he was 3 months old, May 2005.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Off to Dallas

We just dropped Trey off at the Philly airport a couple of hours ago. He's flying to Dallas this evening for his AP101 class which starts tomorrow. Please pray for him as you have occasion. Pray for safe travels, clear words, and eager students not to mention the stamina to hold up for the 12 hours of lecturing that have been squeezed into 3 days. Thankfully, we had only a couple of tears from Davis as we drove away from Departures. The blow was eased a tad by our first trip to the Haddon Heights Library. Unfortunately, we couldn't check anything out because I had no proof of address with me to get a library card. Try explaining that to a 3 year old who wants to check out 15 Thomas books.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Our Southpaw

We're fairly certain Davis is a lefty. We first started noticing it a few months ago when he would throw a ball. Besides his amazing accuracy and correct form, he always throws objects with his left hand. Of course, this excited both Trey and me thinking of the major league bucks in this southpaw's future. We kept watching and have now observed that he also holds his fork or spoon with his left hand and when he "colors", it is often with his left although sometimes he uses both hands at the same time. I think this is all really fascinating. I have left-handed tendencies inherited from my dad. Although I write with my right, I bat and golf left-handed and I cut my food with my left, avoiding the confusing utensil switching that most Americans subject themselves to and for which I partially attribute finishing meals ahead of others. However, there are no true lefties in either of our immediate families. Just further evidence that Davis is his own little man.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Have a G'uh One!

I haven't mentioned much about reverse culture shock probably because in the midst of moving, caring for little ones, dealing with pregnancy sickness, and then the sheer joy of being home I feel like it's only now I've had a moment to take a breath and really notice it. You know you're still adjusting when the things that you grew up with all your life suddenly seem strange. Driving on the right side of the road, for example, still throws me at random and odd moments, like when my sister's about to turn onto a highway on-ramp and I begin to panic about where the car should go in relation to the oncoming traffic. When I've been driving for a decade of my short life, only approximately 2 full weeks of which was spent driving in the UK, how can I be so spatially switched over to another way of driving?

Another one? Trey and I went out to dinner the other night, an indulgence we've been enjoying rather frequently these days what with the reduced cost and the driving convenience not to mention the abundance of willing babysitters. As we left the restaurant, the hostess called after us, "Have a g'uh one!" This is my poor attempt at a Philly accent transliteration. If only I could record an audio rendition for all you non-native Philadelphians. Those of you from here know exactly what I'm talking about. Imagine Rocky saying the above, dropping the requisite "d" in "good". That's a g'uh approximation of a typical farewell greeting in the Delaware Valley. I never even noticed it before, but it suddenly struck me as quaint and endearing, like the Scots' "nay bother", and I wanted to give her a wee bosey (Aberdonian hug) and thank her for making me feel back at home.

So evidently we all have our own cultural idioms too, which apparently you can only really hear and perhaps appreciate once you've been absent for awhile.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Next Doctor

Recently Trey dug out of a closet the regalia he wore for his first PhD graduation, a very special commencement gift from his mom, and showed it to Addison. Then randomly a few days ago Addison asked him, "Where is your wedding dress?" He's not far from the truth because Trey loves to pull the robe and tam out of its garment bag and admire the wool crepe with its rich velvet bars and trim much the way women admire photos of their wedding attire. He still kept the run-of-the-mill robe provided by the seminary and put that on Addison for fun when he asked about the dress. Although a trifle big, it's rather fetching, and I sense a future career in academia.

This picture was taken when Addison was three months old right before Trey's graduation. He fills the tam out better now.

And here is Trey May 2005 in his "wedding dress".

Before and After

Barber Addison's handiwork.

The fix. Semper fi, Mac!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Haircut

Just to add to my parental anxieties of late, early this afternoon one child found a pair of unattended scissors and decided to give another child a haircut. I'll let you guess who did what. Trey's response was, "Don't worry about it. I cut my sister's hair once." Yes, I know this is a near universal childhood experience, but the timing couldn't be worse for my flagging confidence. While we were going to grow their hair out for fall, I sense another buzz cut in the near future. *deep breath*

Why?

It has begun and I am already out of answers. Months ago the questions started, but recently they have shifted over to the dreaded why questions. What do you say to things like, "Mama, why is that a ladder?" Trey turns it around on Addison and asks him if he's experiencing a moment of existential doubt. I, on the other hand, tell him he's run out of questions for the day. I fear he will drive the workers doing my parents' renovations to distraction with his endless queries about the tools and every little move they make. Why are you doing that? Why are your pants dirty? Why don't you have kids? It can get a little personal and embarrassing, and I find myself running interference frequently.

In my few short years parenting, I notice there are highs and lows throughout the year. Right now I feel like I'm experiencing a bit of a parental low, my own existential doubt. How can I do this job adequately? Are we making any progress? Why does it have to be so hard? I am coming to see little by little that parenting is not in the first instance about me rearing my wee ones, but it is about God refining me. As angry and disappointed as my children can make me at times, how much more do I do the same to God every day. Disciplining my boys shows me in a most uncomfortable way how undisciplined I am, how faithless, how stubborn and foolish. I do the same sinful things over and over again. When I say to Trey, "When will he stop doing (fill in the blank)," I wonder how ironic those words must sound to God coming from someone who struggles with the same sin patterns year after year.

Just as with Addison, I'm not sure I have answers to these questions. Hopefully, they will come with time or perhaps on the other side of glory. In the meantime, I do have one why question of my own. Why don't children come with a mute button???

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Pool

I hardly know what to do with all the sunny days we've been having. For someone like me who is so affected by the weather, it's like one endless warm fuzzy. In fact yesterday was one of those brutal mid-Atlantic summer days with 99% humidity in the 90s that I so longed for on the cold, wet, purportedly summer days of Aberdeen. As we drove to church and crossed the Walt Whitman Bridge, the city was virtually invisible, enveloped in a blanket of soupy humidity and trapped pollution. That I'm not so fond of, but the warmth and glorious rays I could take ad infinitum.

The first full week we were here I realized how much hot weather we still had left and decided that it would be best to get a wading pool for the boys. After calling around to numerous stores which, under normal circumstances, would have such seasonal fare and striking out repeatedly since stores are now currently stocked with heavy winter jackets and snow boots, my mom and I finally found some at none other than blessed Target. As it is obviously the end of the season, everything was reduced 75%. The boys love splashing around in the pool and emptying it, of course, and I feel like we've finally gotten our summer.


Friday, September 12, 2008

The Zoo

My parents are in the process of getting their house ready to sell. As a consequence since our arrival there has been a parade of workmen in and out remodelling two bathrooms, fixing plumbing, installing new windows. Yesterday the new windows were being installed upstairs and the only thing to do with two little boys who were very much underfoot but couldn't play in the backyard due to the debris was get out. So off to the Philadelphia Zoo we went. Seemed appropriate.

It was a beautiful, mild sunshine day, and after living for two years without a car, I can hardly describe to you the liberating feeling of hopping in my own vehicle without having to walk anywhere or rely on a bus or a friend for a ride. I feel like the scope of my world has broadened. Outings seem so much less daunting or exhausting. Davis has finally started to get used to the car and now regularly falls asleep in his carseat. It's like a baby narcotic. Both boys really enjoyed the zoo, and I decided to purchase a year membership which includes free parking. After what we would have paid just for this visit, we would only have to come one more time to pay for the membership. You can bet we'll be using it a lot over the next year or at least as long as we're in this area. We stayed for several hours, enjoyed a packed lunch, visited the petting zoo right before we headed home with a promise to Addison that he could ride the kiddie train next time. With the membership there is no pressure to see it all, a feat nearly impossible for such a large zoo. We missed the big cats (lions, tigers, etc.) this time around, but it didn't matter. We'll definitely be back soon.

All Addison wanted to see from the time we stepped foot into the zoo was the giraffes.

When I first saw these animals, I thought to myself, "Wow, they look a lot like Hairy Coos!" And, indeed, they were! I wanted to tell all the people standing around, "You know I lived in Scotland for two years and we saw these live around the countryside," but I stopped myself because I knew no one would care.

Extinction? Have you seen how many there are in Scotland? Oh well, I'm sure they seem exotic to the Philly crowd.

The object of Addison's great affection, a full-size tractor in the barnyard animals section.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Piano

One of the benefits we've been enjoying at my parents' house is their piano. Some of you already know that I took piano lessons for many years as a child on up through high school and then even into adulthood after Addison was born. While far from being a great talent, I derive much pleasure from tinkling the ivory every now and again, as apparently do my children. Both boys cannot be kept away from it. Thankfully, it's been well broken in by four other children who banged the keys in decades previous.

Addison's magnetic draw to music has only intensified with his exposure to this instrument. We have got to get him some music lessons. He hums and sings all day long, and now is quite good at carrying a recognizable tune. He truly has a musical heart.

Sweet Baby D who soon will no longer be our baby. The American flag outfit, which I have no doubt is causing more than a few guffaws from certain UK quarters (ahem *Sian*), was one of Trey's favorites for Addison. Last week we rummaged through our storage units and discovered, praise God, that some of Addison's old clothes were easily accessible. We pulled out a huge box of summer clothes that fit Davis now, including this American flag romper that Addison wore for Memorial Day and 4th of July 2006. It's been great fun to revisit all the old outfits we'd completely forgotten about. Even better, we found a good bit of the boy baby clothes too, so if #3 turns out to be a boy, we'll be well-stocked, and if the baby's a girl, I won't mind shopping for pretty little girly things one tiny bit.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Things I'd Nearly Forgotten

Photo of Citizens Bank Park courtesy of sarowen at flickr.

Thunderstorms and baseball. I barely knew I'd missed them until I just stumbled upon them and rediscovered the magic all over again.

Last night my mom and I went to the Phillies-Marlins game at lovely Citizens Bank Park. She periodically gets free tickets from her boss, who has season tickets, and last night, a perfect night for baseball, was one of those lucky times. We stood in line for 15 minutes to get a famous Pat's cheesesteak (the original inventor of the Philly cheesesteak), and although we missed the first inning and paid double what we would have outside the ballpark, it was totally worth it. The Phillies won but not without making it a little interesting in the process, true to form. I spent the entire evening overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of home that I'd forgotten, funnel cake and french fries mixed with beer and cotton candy, cheers and boos and chants for our beloved Phils, the Philly Phanatic, and best of all the thrill of a game whose outcome can change at a moment's notice, a game not dictated by a clock, but won or lost by the sheer determination of its players.

I can remember lightening striking on one occasion the entire two years we were in Scotland. Little did I know how much I missed it until this morning a thunderstorm rolled in. Nothing too severe, just powerful enough to remind me why they always held my fascination as a kid. A flicker or two of the electric lights, counting the seconds between the flash of light and the crack of thunder. They are majestic and awe-inspiring if terrifying at times. Thankfully, the boys, who obviously have no experience with them in their short lives thus far, seemed unfazed.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Yes, Sir, Please

Periodically the kids just come out with something that makes you throw your head back in laughter. This is Addison's latest, "Yes, sir, please!" The other day I asked him if he wanted something, who knows what it was, milk, pretzels, grapes, and without batting an eye he said, "Yes, sir, please, mama!"

While I applaud his politeness, I'm not quite sure I'm ready to take on the title of "sir". And more importantly, where did he come up with that?

Labor Day

My blogging has been sadly remiss. Every day is paved with noble intentions to document the precious and hilarious moments which comprise each day lest they be lost forever. However, still in search of some sort of routine, I'm finding it next to impossible. No excuses anymore. Must blog! Last week, the family, minus Trey, who was driving home from Atlanta with our car or "truck" as Addison insists on calling it, went to Barnegat Light, NJ for a Labor Day celebration at the beach. The weather was amazing. Not a cloud in the sky all day, low humidity, mild breeze, warm temperatures. The water was blue-green, a rare phenomenon this far north in the Atlantic, and it was comfortable to swim in, a real treat for Long Beach Island. With some 8 adults in tow, manning two small boys was a piece of cake and I really got to enjoy myself. Our pasty white bodies were a tribute to the last two years in Scotland, and I did my very best to maintain that lily-white pallor. We lunched on the beach and somewhere around 4:30pm, with the tram back to the cars about to quit for the day, we headed home, with the sweet contentment of a day spent listening to the gentle roar of the waves, however not before indulging enormous ice cream cones from the Big Dipper. The boys were completely pooped and conked out within minutes of sinking into their carseats. Definitely a good day! The rest of the photos from down the shore are in the Labor Day 2008 folder in the right-hand column.

Davis with one of the Uncs.

The beautiful surf.

Addison has conquered his fear of the water!

The bay as we headed home. I just love the light this time of year.

Two very tired little men.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Surprise!

With tremendous joy in our hearts we are pleased to announce the expected arrival of baby number three to our little clan. I am now 12 1/2 weeks along, due March 16th. The ultrasound picture here was done at just over 9 weeks while we were still in Aberdeen right before we left. It showed a healthy little gummy bear moving around with a strong heartbeat. Trey and I decided to wait to share the news until I had cleared the first trimester. I had my first doctor's appointment in the US today, which was actually with the nurse and involved lots of paperwork, bloodwork, medical history, etc. I forgot how different things are here in terms of prenatal care. They very graciously offered to put me on the ultrasound machine really quick just to check for the heartbeat and we were delighted to see our little baby moving around as happy as could be. My first actual meeting with the doctor will occur next week, and despite a change in healthcare status, I am thrilled to be seeing the same doctor who delivered Addison at the same hospital where he was born. The good news is that we live only a 15 minute care ride from it. Hopefully, we can make it there in time this go round.

This has been a very hard first trimester. My nausea and fatigue, which are finally starting to ease up a wee bit, were the worst I've experienced so far. Trying to keep these symptoms hidden from others while we waited for good news of a healthy pregnancy was very hard on top of preparing to move our family across the ocean. Trey's support was and continues to be my rock. These things are obviously not meant to be endeavored alone. On top of the fatigue and sickness I experienced some new symptoms this time, including very bad headaches and dizziness. Trying to keep up after two active toddlers when you feel this rotten is a herculean task. Thankfully, with the move behind us and the onset of the second trimester, things have gotten easier. We rejoice in God's abundant grace to us in providing this gift of a new little life. He is, indeed, so good!

PS Our boxes all arrived safely this past Tuesday, later than promised but relatively unscathed save for the glass of one picture frame. Not bad for a trek across the Atlantic.