Tuesday, December 22, 2009

White Christmas



It snows in Glasgow. Properly. This year we are going to have a white Christmas! We didn't bring gloves or snow pants or snow boots nor drive a 4x4 but we love it! The kids have made snowmen and have begged to go outside to play in the garden. There are impromptu snowball fights everywhere and with anyone. One must always be on guard! Glasgow is lovely in the sun but spectacular in the snow. Today as I picked up the kids from their last day of school, all the parents commented on the bright smiles of the kids as they burst through the doors. And it was not because of it being the last day of school. Our usually laborious walk home was playful and fun. The ice is treacherous, but the snow is great!



And so far my flight is not cancelled!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Staying home for New Years?

About 2 months ago I booked a flight for me to go to San Diego over New Years to attend my dad's wedding. He was planning on getting married earlier but because of my complaints of not being able to attend mid-semester, he pushed it back so I could be there. Well, I booked my tickets through British Airways... They are striking from the 22 of December to the 2 January. My tickets are for 29 December to 5 January. My dad's wedding is the 2 January. I can't go!!! I am so, so sad!

Any time I am done with school I help out at the kids' school- Tuesday I went with Emilia's class as they sang carols in the city center.

I love hearing songs with the Scottish accent. At 18 sec. listen for "pur" Rudolph. We have a running list of words that are pronounced very different (really funny- another post).
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Life never slows down... I guess I don't let it! Seriously every day this week there has been something and I am still having to write an essay over the holidays. Since I can't say no to help out at school or let the house get too messy as it really is too small already and I am finding it difficult to even want to buy stuff for the kids (for Christmas) that we will have to take home and airline baggage allowances have changed since we first came here (now we are allotted one bag instead of two- yes, such a horrible run-on sentence). So what can I let go? Cooking! This new fancy/gourmet grocery store came to the neighborhood... I am having a lovely delivery Friday evening... minimal cooking for me until someone else wants to contribute...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December!

Time is passing way too fast. The kids are getting older: Atlas will be a teenager in a few weeks... can I really have a teenager? In trying to be 'on the ball', Rich and I bought the kids' advent calendars a few weeks early. I put them on top of the fridge and promptly two fell in between the wall and some panelling. There was no way to get to them.... Richard came up with the idea to fish them out after attempting to unscrew the sub-wall and moving the fridge... Thank you Grandpa Frank for ensuring that we have a fishing rod and that my kids can fish!

It worked!

I went to London for a quick trip to a Human Rights Seminar with another girl from my class. We took an overnight bus there and back! I'll never take the bus to London again, but had a fun time! Before the seminar we did a bit of shopping and site seeing. I like London! I Love London! Maybe some day could live in London...

When I got back it was rainy, no surprise, but the day next there was a lovely rainbow.

This morning we got our Christmas tree and the kids decorated it. I love that they have taken over! I know that one day I'll get to be in charge again, but for now am loving the break!

Exams this week... pressure. stress. very deep breathes. and yes: I chose this. I know! I know! xxx ♥

Saturday, November 7, 2009

this dojo


The boys had their first karate grading today and are now orange belts. The first night I tried to take them to karate I got lost driving and the car almost overheated. Atlas REALLY didn't want to go and it rained so hard and so much that I thought we were all going to float away. Karate makes me laugh. I loved the first karate kid movie and even did a semester of karate at BYU! My mom has been telling me to sign the boys up since we moved here. But karate makes me laugh. I changed my mind about karate this past summer when we were in Paris. Richard and I were watching some boys dance in a little park when one of them started doing a kata. The other guy could not get the moves and the karate dude was a better dancer... do you see where this is going? I resolved that my boys would get rhythm and be coordinated in any way possible. The boys have admitted (finally) that they enjoy it. We tease them and make all sorts of karate jokes but we do take them and would make them go.... The night Atlas got his karate gi he put it on for me and I laughed so hard I cried. He indulged me by letting me take pictures of him in various stances. My camera light broke (why I usually NEVER let the kids touch my camera!!!), so the pictures aren't great. He is totally the bad boy in The Karate Kid!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's November!


The leaves on some of the trees are gone!
I took Emilia out to lunch one day last week (I never came back) and we went to this great little cafe called "Heart Buchanan". If Williams-sonoma was ever a cafe this is what it would be. The food is gourmet and simple and there is a little shop. My favorite is their rocket pesto. Not cheap but worth every pence!
Paris turned 6.
We had a birthday party for her. Richard and I took 9 little girls to a craft shop where they decoupaged animals.
And of course the kids dressed up for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October week

The kids got a week off from school last week. I didn't. Richard worked. So we sent the 3 littles to Theatre camp for the week. It was a huge hit. (Atlas spent the week at the skate park) Leif and Paris starred in "Peter Pan". Leif was Peter and Paris Tinker bell! They had just a week and the play was great. All the kids memorised their lines and we enjoyed watching it!!! Paris died, Leif had his first sword fight, stage kiss... so fun. video

This autumn has been beautiful. Last year it rained and rained and rained (I could keep going). The rain hasn't started yet... All around it is so breath-takingly beautiful. I could post so many photos, but these few will give you the idea.


Friday, October 2, 2009

A new leaf





I am in my last stretch here at 'uni' with just 9 months left in Glasgow. We plan on leaving right after graduation. So I thought that instead of trying to blog about what I am doing and trying to make it interesting, I would blog about what I like here. Yesterday was absolutely beautiful, the sun was out and the leaves so many amazing colors- it was a spectacular day. So I am going to post photos of my favorite venues here. The first up is Crossraguel Abbey. It is located about 45 minutes away by car, south, near a quaint little town by the name of Maybole. I tried to go to the Abbey 3 years ago on a day out with Atlas. We took the train and then the bus and then tried to walk the 2 miles, but as we had no idea how far 2 miles was we never quite made it to the abbey. Instead we stopped at a shell of a castle that was filled with hay. There were giant rounds of hay stored in the building. When we finally got to the abbey a few weeks ago, we could see the ruined castle from the abbey grounds. The Abbey was just 500 yards around a bend and could not be seen from where we stopped! We took a picnic lunch and my mom and explored the beautiful ruined abbey. The kids played tag and hide-n-seek. My mom did the abbey worksheet given to the kids (word puzzles and clues) and I had a great time ignoring my rowdy children and playing photographer!

The last image is from another outing- Stirling Castle, about an hour north of here by car. We visited the ancient graveyard and challenged the kids to find the oldest grave. The kids found a lot from the 1500's! I found this statue of a child. Unfortunately it lost its head.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

School time


School is in full swing- this is the kids' 4th week. Their first day was great. It was pouring rain, a first for us, but because we were ready for Glasgow, all went well. The 3 youngest rode their bikes and Francie and I ran behind. Francie is a better runner than me. The second day as we went to unlock the bikes, we discovered that Leif's was stolen! We were in shock. The antique cast iron fence had been kicked? sawed? the bike was gone and so was the chain. Leif rode on the back of Emilia's bike that day and quite a few since. We are trying to replace it, but all things are difficult to get done here. The second week Emilia and Leif ran for Pupil Council. They made badges and posters, at school- everything is very fair here. The two wrote speeches and gave them. On Friday both were elected. We were so pleased. BOTH!
Then Rich and I took off for a little trip, just the two of us. Long over due. I booked cheap tickets to Malaga back in the early spring. As the date was getting closer, both Rich and I started dreading it- too much work for Rich and he wanted to just stay- and for me it was just letting go and not worry about the kids. I told Rich he could stay home, no hard feelings! That got him a bit mad at me and then he for sure was going to come with me. We had no reservations for anywhere- the plan was to camp. We had no travel guide. Forbidden! We didn't want to have to do anything or to miss anything. I booked a car. We just knew that it would be warm and sunny. At the airport Rich said, "Let's get away from the British"! I laughed so hard. There were so many and they all had a zillion kids. Spain is for families. We didn't realise that the "Costa del Sol" is really built up and touristy. Like Waikiki? never been there, but so I was told. Any ways, touristy was not what we were after. I was driving the tiny stick shift car so I drove south. Richard wanted to go east, but I won. This was my idea and I always wanted to go to Gibraltar. Then we could go East. If he still wanted to... We sunned and swam and then went to Gibraltar. It surpassed my expectations. We were like little kids at Disneyland. We saw the Macaques first as that was my main reason for going to Gibraltar- yes driving 150 kilometres to see monkeys in the wild. They were beautiful and scary! As we were watching them play in a little pool, one used Rich as a spring board to get higher. He got muddy monkey paws on his white shirt. We laughed so hard.
We visited a Moorish castle and saw the old fortifications and tunnels. We then saw the grotto- the biggest stalactites and stalagmites that I have ever seen (and I have been to a few caves). A part of the cave had a stage where weddings, ballets, operas etc are still performed. Classical music was piped through out the cave.

I think it was Gibraltar where we finally found our grove. Luckily it was the first day. We camped in amazing places, climbed amazing sand dunes and sunned and swam in crystal clear water. We stayed in the south. Apparently it is touristy all the way to Barcelona and where we were, the most southern spot in Europe, it was rural and lovely. It was a perfect way to end summer. I had a permanent smile on my face every day- even when my bottom lip swelled horribly from the sun, like a bad botox job (I imagine) and it was hard to drink water. We kept saying that the kids would love this or that and we hope to take them this spring...That is Africa in the distance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Camping


No summer is complete without a camp out. I love to camp. I grew up camping with my dad and sister Cammie. While the kids were finishing up school and I was trying to play the uke, every day was cold, windy and cloudy. I need sun. I love the sun. So after searching for deals, I booked a "free" flight to Sardinia. I didn't want it to cost a fortune- the hotels weren't being compliant, so Cammie came over and practised her Italian and made a few phone calls for me about getting camp spaces. The first phone call was a wrong number- it should have been a camping place but was a residence. What did Cammie do? She didn't hang up like I might have. She asked the guy where a good camping place was. He asked his friend and then recommended a place. We googled it and then called- the place didn't have a website, but the camp manager sounded really nice on the phone and said there were always spaces for tents- no reservations needed or taken!. That was enough for me. I found a tent and sleeping bags super cheap and best of all they fit in our carry-on bags! I took Atlas and Emilia and for 5 blissful, warm and quiet days (I don't speak Italian) we camped on the beach. The camp place was great- low key with families and couples and grandparents and we were the only Americans- maybe in all of Sardinia. Atlas was thrilled to see wild flamingos. The water was crystal clear and snorkelling great. We got a little too much sun and the ground was hard but it was just perfect.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

family vacation


To say that we are geographically challenged might be a bit of an understatement. When we got off the plane in Beauvais the sun was shining and it was so warm. Deliciously warm. Our apartment for the week was up 108 steps (the Sacre Coeur is up 211 steps). It was at the top of a 5 story building and we climbed them at least once a day- sometimes 2 or 3 times. We showed our kids such a good time that they all agreed that they would like Paris to be their next home!



I have been to Paris many times. I stayed outside the city for a few months and took the train in almost every day, but this trip was the first time I saw the Moulin Rouge and took a ride on the Batteau Mouche.

From bike riding (the Velib is awesome and so simple to use), to rowing boats, swimming in fountains and pony riding, we absolutely love Paris. Richard is already checking out Masters of International Law Programs in France for me...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I passed!

I passed all my exams... Total relief. And now I can REALLY relax (not really). We visited a castle- no surprise, but now we are "friends of Historic Scotland" and we'll be visiting a whole lot more! The best part of any castle (I think) is the grounds. Castles are usually built in the most beautiful spots and there are beautiful walks along streams and rivers and waterfalls. This castle in particular had wild foxgloves, bluebells and fields of ferns.


Here are the tutus that I made- just 15 of them. There were many more! And a self portrait of us walking into the city center.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer

N. Ireland was beautiful. We stayed here

We had our own private beach and a little herd of cows.

My kids are brave. We hiked and crossed the rope bridge. I was ready to stay behind with Paris, but she didn't even consider not crossing. I was nervous, not being too fond of heights! On the way back- (we had to go back) Atlas was swinging it.

We went to the Giant's Causeway, something I have wanted to do since I was little.

Saw crazy murals, walled and fenced neighborhoods, and even watched a parade- it last hours and we got stuck in the middle of it and had to watch it! It was pro UK.

All in all it was fun and very cultural. It rained and we hiked in the mud. It was sunny and cool, but everyone swam in the Irish Sea (not me- I like it a bit more warm).Richard the human Ferry. We were looking for Puffins.


I am LOVING this little tool:

I've sewn 15 tutus and 14 mouse tails for the girls' ballet performance later this month. The little machine is great. I just might have to take this back to the states with me.

I am learning to play this:

I can play (sort of) and sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". My mom played the Ukulele and I have always wanted to. In 5th grade I sang in the talent show "Somewhere over the Rainbow" while my friend played the piano. My kids all know the song and we all try to sing while I try to play! Anyone know any good teach yourself how to play books? Youtube has been pretty good too!
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