Monday, August 19, 2013

The Scotland Connection Part 2

Tomorrow we leave for Scotland! After two years of planning, it seems strange that this trip is actually going to take place!

I began describing our connection to Scotland in The Scotland Connection Part 1. I thought I would finish up that story briefly here before we leave.

After our first trip to Scotland on a history tour we went back to our regular lives. However, a tiny spark of romance had been growing ever so slowly between Michael and me while in Scotland and before a year was up we were engaged to be married.

After our marriage we headed to Pittsburgh for seminary and once Michael graduated we were looking for the best place for him to go for his Ph.D. That place turned out to be Scotland! 

Here is the picture of us in the airport on our moving to Scotland day, September 16, 2001, just a few days after 9/11. 

For over four years we made our home in Airdrie in this wee little house:

We made some amazing memories. We lived without a car and learned to walk everywhere and take public transport. We met wonderful friends and learned all about Scottish culture.

Rachel met friends her age immediately and each year on her birthday we would take a picture of these three girls together. This year they all turn 13. We can't wait to take a picture of them together while we are over!

Scotland is a land of immense natural beauty:

Scotland is also where Andrew and James were born, at home, with Scottish midwives as part of the National Health Service. The midwives were amazing!

Our church started a Mothers and Toddlers group and we made more friends this way.

Lots of friends came to see us and this gave us a chance to visit beautiful places:

Taking tea at the Willow Tearoom in Glasgow:

Our years in Scotland hold some of the sweetest memories we have and yet they also contained some of the hardest years of our lives. My health was so poor while we were there and almost an entire year spent on the couch, pregnant, with two tiny children and no family nearby was difficult. Oh how I rejoice that my health has improved!

My sister, Emily, managed to visit three times and you can imagine what a relief to pick her up at the airport and have her help us for the summer! We also got to travel a bit and see more beautiful things.

Meeting "Auntie Helen" was one of the highlights of our life in Scotland. Our visits to her home where she played with the children and served us tea and shared food magazines and love for the royal family helped to make Scotland a home away from home for us. The hardest thing about our visit to Scotland will be not having Helen there to welcome us. However, I have kept in touch with her sister all these years and we have plans to meet in person!

We all can't wait to drink tea with Scottish water. It will be so good!

And of course there are a million other friends who made our time in Scotland so special. We can't wait to see them!!!

Many friends, like Jimmy, are no longer with us, but we will think of them and remember.

And we can't wait to see Sam and May. Sam made a point to take us out in his car and make sure we got to enjoy the Scottish countryside and the lovely stately homes and castles. May made sure I had easy recipes to cook, hand-knitted sweaters for the children, and a welcome cup of tea or lunch whenever I wanted. We can't wait for James Samuel to meet his namesake and have his own memories of these dear friends.

I had every blackberry bush in Airdrie written on a map in my mind and each fall we went to gather all that we could. Everyone loves blackberries. In fact, it was James' first outing as a baby. I'm so glad we are going back during blackberry season!

Oh and I can't wait to visit all my favorite charity shops and see what they might have. Every time I walked to town I passed this shop and that is how I amassed my large china collection.

And I can't wait to visit my friends at the local shops, and to eat the delicious Scottish food!

And in a way I'm glad the children are old enough not to need one of these anymore! I think that's partly how I got so sick -- pushing this buggy filled with two children and a week's worth of groceries underneath!!!

And so, thanks to an amazing grant for pastors by the Lilly Endowment Fund, we are headed back for another chapter in the "Scottish Connection". Every time I think of the miracle that this is for our family I feel like crying. This is a long-time dream come true!

I'm afraid I'm going to take a blog break while we are gone. I will post some pictures to Facebook and it is my intention to share everything with you on the blog when we return. If we aren't friends on Facebook, you can "like" my Felted Flower Shop page and I will make sure photos are accessible through that.

See you in October!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Tea Trolley and Other Bits of Life

Life seems a bit relentless this week trying to make sure the checklist is completed by Monday night....

Here is a picture of the Magical White Bean Soup I made from Bread and Wine last week. SO good!

A last tea was held with the neighbors before we leave. There were six of us and it was so nice to see everyone. All the kids on the block are back to school. We dined on Indian treats, Filipino fruit salad, berry crisps and cookies. And we drank African Summer tea.

Packing, packing and more packing! It's probably not as bad as I feel. It's just that looming deadline that I can't get away from!

Look who showed up in my garden this week! Isn't he SO cute!! He watched me for quite some time and allowed his picture to be taken.

My mom insisted on taking me out to lunch this week. Definitely medicine for the soul. Thanks Mom! I am so conscious that not everyone has a mom around (my mom didn't). I try to treasure each moment.

I think I mentioned the kids found all the library books! YAY!!!

We did take a few hours out to enjoy nature this week. The weather has been incredible -- in the 70's and sunny!

How cute is this tree frog?!

My copy of A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside by Susan Branch arrived this morning. I couldn't wait to start reading it.

Feeling quite slumpish after lunch I made a pot of caffeine tea, vowing to bear the consequences. Instead of powering me up I just felt worse and worse as the afternoon went on.

Finally around 5:30 I sat down to read the book! I couldn't stop. I was too tired to get out of my chair anyway. Susan's book is far too inspiring. Funny that her trip to England took her to so many of the places we plan to visit.

I was supposed to start pizza at 6. The clock ticked on and the pages kept turning. Hmmmm.....what about ordering pizza? Maybe our vacation money could pay for that now. Yes, Michael agreed. Order pizza. We never do that. Michael left to pick up the regular and gluten free pizza. More time to read....The pizza takes an extra long time. Oh well.

Half way through the book I stopped for pizza. Then I realized: I hadn't had any proper carbohydrates all day except for that cookie with tea. Twenty minutes later I was zooming around like wonder woman (well, not quite). Why do I always forget these things???

And now I must get on with the to-do list......

Oh, do check out Christina's latest free pattern for babies.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

State Fair

We managed to get to the State Fair twice this year. The weather has been so perfect, not too hot!!! 

The kids always love Little Hands on the Farm. This was Rachel's last year to walk around and Laura is just now getting the idea of how fun this area is.

Getting ready to go to the land of Sheep!

A little hands on experience after spending the summer with All Creatures Great and Small.

By now the State Fair has its traditions that can't be broken, like choosing a piece of stick candy.

I love the Pioneer Village and this year the ladies were working on a vintage 30's quilt. I just learned that "30's" is a whole genre of fabric (which I happen to love).

I love the tatting, spinning, quilting, rug hooking, weaving, and other handwork that goes on here.

The coppersmith:

We even attended a cooking demonstration: banana bread hot oatmeal

Check out world's largest popcorn ball! They cheated: they used glue instead of sugar to hold it together! Popcorn was the theme of this year's fair.

I enjoyed the Bonsai exhibit. Can you just imagine how perfect this tree would be for fairies!!

Ice cream at the Dairy Barn is traditional! Thanks to our friend, Carla, who came along to make sure I didn't lose anyone!

We went back this week with Michael. The giant pumpkins were in!

And the giant watermelons. Wish I had some perspective for this picture. These melons were huge!!!

The pumpkins were huge too!

And the pumpkin carving was pretty fun!

It was $2 Tuesday and we had promised the kids rides. One ride each plus the Ferris Wheel was the deal. But, then I came up with a great idea. An extra ride for each child if ALL the library books were found (remember that we check out A LOT of library books). Imagine, the kids found ALL the books!

We ran into a neighbor and the kids had fun going on rides together. Someone in line handed us their extra tickets so the kids ended up with another extra ride!

I voted to join them on the bumper cars and Michael joined them on the swings.

Laura was thrilled to go on two rides by herself!!!

Check out her fan club making sure the occasion was recorded.

It was such a fun evening together despite the late hour of 11:30!

Too late for ice cream so we opted for cotton candy while riding the Ferris Wheel.

The fair is still going but I think we've had our fill for this year! Next year I am resolved to go to the fair without children and visit the Home and Arts building!!