Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Lilies of the Field

Life has changed once again in the Holloway house, the reason for the lengthy silence.

My previous employment gig was put on hold at the beginning of September due to funding issues just as we returned from Atlanta. This necessitated a renewed job search and this past week another opportunity presented itself.

I am now working for the month of October as a Marketing Consultant for another start-up firm. However, the big change is that I'm working outside the home. Yes, that's right. Mama gets up early every morning to catch a train into the city to earn some bacon.

Although I've done it before, three years of being at home means that this change is going to take some getting used to. Unlike before, I now leave three little ones in the able care of their father, knowing his task is by far the harder one. Evie has struggled the past two days with taking the bottle. I've been pumping, but like her older brother, Davis, she is not too keen on what she clearly regards as an inferior substitute. After two days of sub-par milk consumption, we took a little trip to Babies'R'Us tonight for some bottles that more closely resemble what she's used to. We would definitely appreciate your prayers about this as it weighs heavily on my mind.

The good news is that I'm enjoying the work a great deal. I believe my abilities are being used and I am hopeful that I can have a beneficial impact on this young company. And in the midst of tremendous economic hardship, I am humbled at God's gracious and swift provision for our family. While I don't know how long this opportunity will last, I find great comfort in the words of the Sermon on the Mount:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Acts 6.25-34

Friday, September 25, 2009

Clapping Contortionist

Evie had her 6 month well visit a couple of days ago and got three shots and an oral vaccine.

It put her a little out of commission as you can see here. She tends to run low-grade fevers with her vaccinations and isn't quite herself. Yesterday morning while Trey and I were out of the room for a minute Addison hoisted our T-Tiny onto the couch in front of the TV, put her head on a pillow, gave her a blanket and his Peter Rabbit all for prime viewing real estate of The Incredibles.

This is the adorable scene we found. What else to do when you are feeling poorly?

Despite the nasty shots, Evie continues to thrive in unexpected ways. Her growth is steady and in proportion to her petite frame, but what seems so surprising are her motor developments. The day before her visit she began clapping and will do it upon request (see video). The pediatrician was shocked. According to her, clapping is a 9 month skill, not a 6 month, especially not doing it on command.


Her other two new tricks are a perfect downward facing dog and sitting herself up from a crawling position.

On the agenda next week for Evie, walking, potty training (I would only be so fortunate), and Kindergarten. *insert obvious tongue in cheek*

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Gutting of Marischal College

Marischal College is an extremely important building to our family and the namesake of our second born (Davis Marischal). Originally founded in 1593, it merged with King's College in 1860, forming the present day University of Aberdeen. Marischal College is the second largest granite building in the world, but sadly most of it lies empty and unused.

While we lived in Aberdeen, the University arrived at an agreement with the City Council to lease them the premises for 175 years. This means that this unused facility will be bustling with activity again.

The Council is in the process of renovating Marischal College and moving its offices and 1300 employees into it in the first quarter of 2011. The hideous Soviet-esque St. Nicholas House where the Council offices currently reside across the street will be torn down for which we are all grateful.

As you can see the renovations are extensive. The College interior is being completely gutted to bring it up to modern standards all the while maintaining the breathtaking granite facade, which I do hope they clean. The granite has darkened considerably over time and needs a good scrubbing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Lost City

When Trey was in Aberdeen at the end of August, he purchased a number of souvenirs, among them my new St. Andrew's cross keychain. Most of them were treats for others, but one in particular was what we like to call a "from Trey to Trey". It's a beautiful coffee table book entitled The Lost City: Old Aberdeen published last year, and it details with full, glossy photographs the delightful history of Old Aberdeen. Trey has been pouring over it with the eagerness of a boy on Christmas. Periodically he reads me passages about things such as the Aberdeen bestiary, the women textile and knitting craftsmen who dominated the city's commercial enterprise, the multi-ton bells which would ring the hours before the days of watches, and the student graffiti carved into the pews in St. Machar's.

It's all so real to us having walked the very streets, lived in the shadow of these magnificent buildings, breathed the North Sea saturated air. You will remember that we lived in Old Aberdeen a stone's throw from the Crown Tower of King's College Chapel. Securing that lovely little house was a dream for us and afforded us a window into university life which many do not experience simply because they did not possess our prime location. Housing in Old Aberdeen is hard to come by. Most buildings are owned by the University, and the few that are not are rented quickly and at steep prices. Only after we moved in did we have any idea what a find the Orchard Road house was. (Incidentally, it is my great delight that it has stayed in the University community now with its third student family in occupancy.) Old Aberdeen was the hub for us. We spent countless hours walking her streets, soaking in the medieval architecture and cobbled ways, so for Trey to find such a treasure as The Lost City: Old Aberdeen, wedding two of his great loves, Old Aberdeen and books, was truly a great find indeed.

On his recent trip Trey took many walking tours back through his old haunts, and for my sake, if not his own, he took a picture of the restored Crown Tower. You may remember it was under construction when we left August 2008. It now shines in its full glory without scaffolding constraint. If you look closely here, you can see that the three short columns center and left are brand new.

Trey was able to roam the front garden of the Scottish Country Manse and took some familiar but never tiresome photographs from behind its fountain.

Another view forever etched in my mind. This is exactly as I remember it when we first arrived August 2006. Blue, blue skies and that breathtaking tower.

Rather artsy, no? Trey found a similar photo on Flickr and attempted to recreate the view. Quite good I think. And for those of you who are new and wondering what in the world this is, it is an homage to Aberdeen's own founder, Bishop Elphinstone. You can read more about him here.

The Town House.

The Chanonry is the cobbled street leading up to St. Machar's Cathedral, a beautiful tree-lined avenue flanked by large granite estates resting grandly behind high stone walls.

St. Machar's Cathedral

Inside the great Cathedral with her rustic decor and stunning heraldic ceiling.

One of many stained glass windows in St. Machar's. This window depicts the somewhat mysterious figure known as St. Machar. There is a great deal of dispute regarding his historical existence, some identifying him with St. Mungo and others as the individual who accompanied St. Columba in his missionary efforts in the British Isles.

The Crown Tower with the North Sea behind.

There is nothing like the green of Scotland. Nothing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Statue of Liberty

Thankfully you will only experience this sensation a handful of times in your lifetime. What feeling? The sinking, gutting realization that you've forgotten something vital. Concert tickets, airline tickets, or, as in our case on Friday, the memory card to your digital camera. Yes, that's right folks, after planning and dreaming about our family excursion to the Statue of Liberty for all of the summer and much of the spring, we had finally found the most picture-perfect Friday in September you could imagine. The air was clean and clear and humidity free. The sun was shining with a comfortable breeze along the water, and the temperature necessitated jeans but nothing heavier. As we finished the final leg of our car ride and began the descent into Liberty State Park with the most picturesque view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty you can imagine, Trey said to me, "Pull out the camera and get some video." I switched it on full of wonderment at our beautiful view only to be jolted out of my reverie by the ugly words on the camera screen...


I stared for a second. What??? And then it hit me. In my zeal to quickly upload the Phillies photos from the other night, I had accidentally left the memory card in my laptop. You probably heard my heartbreaking, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" from wherever you were this past Friday at about 11am. I was eviscerated.

The gift shop did not sell memory cards, incidentally, and so these fine specimens are the work of a disposable Kodak camera (remember them?) sporting obsolete technology and a flash barely worthy of the nomenclature. When we got them put onto disk yesterday, I winced and grimaced as I browsed the CD. The graininess, overexposure, and general inadequacy, and yet once I took an emotional step back, I was able to appreciate their beauty, however sub-par.

The day was truly glorious. We ate lunch in Liberty State Park and then hopped Miss Ellis Island for a quick ferry ride over to Liberty Island, the abode of Lady Liberty. We bypassed Ellis Island and its museum, a wise choice as it turned out with our young gaggle of offspring. The sights of Liberty Island took all of our time.

Trey and I took shifts mounting the statue each with a different boy. Post 9/11 security measures are stringent. The stroller and all our bags would have had to be checked in lockers, and it seemed in light of the confined stairwell into which we would be entering that going in shifts made the most sense. After going through bizarre "puffer" machines, which from what I've gathered detect trace elements of bomb matter???, and then proper metal detectors (which we also had to go through to even get on the ferry -- that's right, two sets of separate metal detectors), we finally mounted the 156 steps to the pedestal observation deck at the base of the statue.

And what a view it was. That's lower Manhattan in the background.

Even a lousy camera couldn't hide the cuteness of that face.

And so now we have another excuse to return. We have to come back with a proper camera.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kisses, Crawling, and Cribs

We won't have Evie's six month stats for another week, but in the meantime I have to share the latest. She's army crawling at breakneck speed and waving, as you will see in the Phillies' video and in the photo here.

And, what seems even more remarkable to me because I don't remember the boys doing this until they were much older, she's giving kisses. If you say, "Evie, give me a kiss," she'll lean in and sort of pucker her mouth for an invariably wet smacker.

We've also started transitioning her into her crib in the boys' room. So now all three children are together, and so far it's going pretty well. She's also sleeping in their for her first nap of the day.

Where did my little T-tiny go?

Phillies Phirst

Last night marked a first for all three Holloway children. We took them to their first Phillies game, actually their first baseball game ever. We've been wanting to do this with my extended family -- siblings, significant others, parents -- for a while now, and finally it all came together, no small feat when juggling the schedules of 12 very busy individuals. It was a fabulous game because the Phillies beat the Nationals, but also because my three wee ones got to witness their very first grand slam although they were admittedly unaware of the import of the event. Miraculously they made it all the way through the 7th inning at which time certain parental figures decided it might be prudent to take these pumpkins home to bed.

Outside the stadium right before the game. The big green monster in the background is the Phillies' mascot, the Phanatic. More on him later. We're wearing windbreakers because it was a cooler day, portending fall, and given the way the ballpark faces, the wind whips off the Delaware River much like the North Sea wind at Pittodrie Stadium.

The Liberty Bell. Not the real one, of course. Every time our team hits a home run it rings and changes color.

Evie soaking it all in. The hat is not from my needles. Rather from my uber-talented and dearly missed friend Sian of Aberdeen acquaintance.

Yes, she's drooling copiously.

Davis working hard on an apple.

Addison was giddy with excitement. When we first arrived in the parking lot, he said, "I love you, Mom. Thank you for letting me come to the Phillies game." Bless his little heart.

Evie wrapped up against the cold, very tired at this point.

At some point in the middle of the game, the Phanatic always appears for some crazy antics, often to dispense goodies. In this case hotdogs which were projectiled out of the hotdog cannon.


A little flavor of the evening. Check out Evie's waving action. She has that down pat now. And pardon Davis's manners at the end. Yuck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Final Winners

Entries have declined, so I am making yesterday's contest the final one for the week and declaring both entrants, Allison and Kate, winners. Congratulations, guys! I loved both of your entries, reminiscing about the old days.

Allison cited the 2003 PETA incident from my entry about the Aberdeen Grammar School on February 2, 2007: "In 2003, the PETA animal rights group held a protest outside the school to try and persuade children to stop drinking milk. Over 100 pupils held a counter protest pelting the activists with milk and chanting their own pro-milk slogans. Police had to be called to save the PETA group including one man dressed as a cow."

Kate reminded me of the streaking incidents we experienced a couple of times, which I blogged about on June 4, 2007: "Evidently, Scotland has a streaking problem. I can honestly say that in the 25 years I lived in the US, I never once encountered a streaker while in the 9 months that we have lived here we've seen two. Last night I was quietly knitting in the living room when, all of a sudden, as Trey entered the room he exclaimed, "Oh my goodness! That guy's streaking!" I looked up just in time to see the fellow's bare back, and then he was gone. It stopped the bowlers momentarily, who sauntered over to get a better look. End of term excitement, perhaps? Not sure how else to explain the lunacy of running around nude on a chilly northeast Scottish evening."

Good times! We'll work out the details of getting these books to you once I have them from Zondervan. So there you have it. Five books to four winners. I will probably give away more in the future, but for now thanks for participating.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 2 Winner and Factoids

Day 2's winner is Heather! Congratulations. I have known Heather since I was a very little girl, and although decades have intervened, it is amazing to me how the internet and my blog, in particular, has enabled me to reconnect with dear people from the past. Heather, I hope you're reading this. I would love to get together with you and your wee ones and deliver these books in person. I'm sure all the kids would have a blast, and I would truly appreciate catching up on all the years in between.

Heather is going to give her book to a neighbor friend whose daughter is quite ill and in and out of the hospital. She has been witnessing to this family for a while and hopes that this book would bring them to a fuller understanding of our great Savior.

Now for today's contest. This is more on the silly side. Put on your investigative hats. You don't need to be a long-time reader to participate, just an adept user of the search bar tool at the top of the page. Find me the most obscure factoid about Aberdeen from within my blog. You must quote what I said directly. Specify the name of the post and the date, so all you readers who live in Aberdeen right now don't have an advantage over everyone else. The entry I like the most will win. No randomness about it this time. To help provide some focus for new readers, we lived in Aberdeen from August 28, 2006 to August 26, 2008 (it just hit me how funny those dates are). However, be aware that I have routinely blogged about Aberdeen even since moving home. You might find the most interesting tid bit post our time there. Happy hunting!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Georgia Aquarium

We have wanted to visit the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta since it first opened. One thing or another got in the way, but this time we were able to organize the trip and all 9 grandkids with parents traipsed off to explore under the sea.

This tank held not one, but three beluga whales. They are mesmerizing to watch in part due to their ability to bend their necks, which adds grace and elegance to these sleek creatures. Plus, who can see such a white beast and not think of Moby Dick?

Addison is slowly overcoming some of his phobias and attempted to pet the sting rays.

The great barrier reef tank which abounded with "Dory" fish.

I have always been fascinated and repulsed by jellies. They are hypnotic.

My two boys with the jellies.

A walk-through fish tank with sharks and other critters.

One more aquarium to tick off the list: London, Camden, Atlanta. I think Baltimore is next.